Trade-target Leake continues impressive run

Trade-target Leake continues impressive run

ST. LOUIS -- All Mike Leake can do now is wait.

The Reds' starting pitcher has taken the mound lately under the realization he could be traded at any point before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. Yet Leake's managed to put together some of his best work, with his performance in a 4-0 win over the Cardinals on Tuesday night being the latest gem.

"Now it's make or break," Leake said. "It's either the last start or I'm back. Three more days until the Deadline. We'll see what happens."

Leake threw 95 pitches over eight innings and allowed four hits with one walk and three strikeouts. He did not allow his first hit until Stephen Piscotty singled with two outs in the fifth inning.

Over his last four starts, Leake is 4-0 with a 0.60 ERA -- just two earned runs in 30 innings.

"I think there's a common thread when he's throwing the ball this well," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It's tempo and conviction in his pitches, and the attack mode. I think he knows exactly what he wants to do when he gets on the mound."

Overall, Leake is 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA in 21 starts.

Several scouts were in attendance at Busch Stadium, including contending teams that need starting pitching like the Blue Jays and Dodgers.

"I've constantly been checking the updates and seeing what's happening," Leake said. "Now I'll go back to doing that, now that I'm done pitching."

Leake, who was a first-round Draft pick of the Reds in 2009 out of Arizona State and who didn't play in the Minors before debuting with the Reds in 2010, can be a free agent after the season. General manager Walt Jocketty, who already traded ace Johnny Cueto to the Royals on Sunday, is looking to retool for the future, and Cincinnati isn't likely to be able to re-sign Leake.

"I think he has a very good perspective on it," Price said. "I don't think he spends a great deal of time worrying about it, and if he does, I don't see it. I think he's in a good place, mentally."

"I'm sure Walt and the front office are happy," Leake said about his recent stretch.

The non-waiver Trade Deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Friday. Leake's next scheduled start for the Reds is Sunday vs. the Pirates. Or is it?

"It's the same for us, it's out of my control," Price said. "It's a situation where Mike is a Cincinnati Red. I've got no reason to believe anything else. I know his name is out there and a lot of teams like him. We will plan for him to pitch and make his next start. That's all I'm going to know unless something happens."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.