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Jordan Leasure has become a high-leverage reliever and a bright spot for the last-place White Sox

 The Associated Press  |    May 13th, 2024 8:32pm EDT

CHICAGO (AP) — It sure looks as if Jordan Leasure belongs in the major leagues. That hasn’t exactly set in just yet.

“You know there’s still in the back of my head like I want to do well so I don’t get sent down,” he said. “There’s still that possibility.”

That seems like a very small possibility at the moment.

Leasure has become a high-leverage reliever for the Chicago White Sox, a bright spot during a difficult start for the last-place team. The 25-year-old right-hander has a 2.20 ERA and two saves in 17 appearances in his first year in the majors.

Chicago dropped 22 of its first 25 games. But it is 9-7 since that ugly beginning to the season.

“I think even with the tough start, we kept positive,” Leasure said before Monday night’s game against Washington was postponed by rain. “Kept pushing through that. We all kind of knew it wouldn’t be like that the whole time.”

Chicago acquired Leasure as part of its sell-off when it went 61-101 last year. It traded veteran pitchers Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 28 for Leasure, Nick Nastrini — another one of Chicago’s top pitching prospects — and journeyman outfielder Trayce Thompson.

Korey Lee, another prospect who was acquired in a trade last summer, also has seized a big league role with the White Sox. The 25-year-old catcher is batting .284 with four homers and nine RBIs in 27 games.

Leasure features a four-seam fastball that averages 96 mph, to go along with a slider and curveball. He has been especially tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .179 batting average.

“With his talent level, he was obviously going to do some special things,” White Sox reliever Dominic Leone said. “But when you mix in his demeanor and his ability to just not let any moment get too big, it really projects a really bright future for him.”

Leasure has been especially good of late. He has allowed one hit in 4 1/3 scoreless innings in four appearances this month, striking out three and walking none.

“I feel good with all my pitches, the shapes, how they’re coming out,” he said. “Velo to start the year had been a little down, so cleaning up some mechanical stuff with my arm path. Ever since I started putting some focus on that, cleaning that up, the velo’s started to climb a little bit more.”

Leasure, a Florida native, was selected by the Dodgers in the 14th round of the 2021 amateur draft. He played college ball for the University of Tampa, making 10 starts in 48 appearances for the Spartans.

Leasure also was a reliever coming up through the minors, but he has shown the ability to pitch multiple innings. He worked two scoreless innings during a 7-5 victory at Cleveland on April 9, and he recorded a four-out save in a 6-3 win against the Guardians on Friday night.

Leasure said he feels comfortable with multi-inning appearances.

“For me, it’s just trying to stay focused,” he said, “cause I’m used to kind of going out there for one inning and blowing it all out. … So coming back in, sitting for five, six, seven minutes, whatever, and then having to stay locked in and go back out, (it’s) not so much a physical battle as it is mental.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb