LeBlanc pitched 4 2/3 innings in the Mariners loss on Monday, which gave the rest of the overworked bullpen a night off.

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CHICAGO — As Wade LeBlanc dressed and readied himself to leave the visitor’s clubhouse of Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday night, teammate after teammate stopped by his locker and offered various forms of praise.

“Good work, Wade.”

“Nice job, Wade.”

LeBlanc acknowledged each of the compliments and exited without much fanfare.

Regardless of what manager Scott Servais said postgame or what Mike Leake added in his comments to the media after his dismal outing, the importance LeBlanc’s relief work went largely go unnoticed by the casual fan. They could only see the lopsided 10-4 loss and Leake’s shaky outing where he allowed eight runs on 12 hits.

But what LeBlanc did was vital to the Mariners and their bullpen.

With Leake only lasting 3 1/3 innings, LeBlanc was called on as the team’s long reliever. It’s a necessary, but un-celebrated role. The Mariners wouldn’t need a third pitcher on the night, LeBlanc made sure of that.  He pitched the final 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits with six strikeouts. His fellow relievers, who had been used heavily in the previous series vs. the Rangers, got a night off.

“Wade did a great job,” said catcher Mike Zunino. “Those guys that can do that and save the back of the bullpen are guys who allow you to go on hot stretches. I have no doubt in my mind that when we use those back-end of the bullpen guys they will be fresh and that’s because of Wade.”

LeBlanc shrugged off his contributions as just part of his role.

“I’m just trying to give them as many innings as I can before they take the ball way from me,” he said.

LeBlanc worked mostly as a starter early in his 10-year big league career. But as the years passed, he filled the long relief/swing starter role more and more for teams.

“I think this role kind of suits a guy like me,” he said.

Part of the reason for that is his ability to bounce back quickly. Even after throwing 71 pitches (50 strikes) on Monday night, LeBlanc was out throwing again on Tuesday afternoon, preparing to pitch that night.

“I could go again today,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll let me.”

LeBlanc has never had trouble bouncing back after an extended outing as a starter or reliever.

“I’ve never had an issue with recovery,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s because I don’t throw 100 mph or just genetics, but I’ve always been able to bounce back fairly easily. I’d go seven and 100 pitches and the soreness wasn’t really there very much.”

It’s quite different compared to some starting pitchers that convert to the long relief role.

“A lot of guys that have been starters for so long, it’s ingrained in their mind that they can’t bounce back,” he said. “But if it’s something that’s going to keep a guy like me in the big leagues. Then you learn how to embrace it and do your best at it.”

Besides the physical recovery, LeBlanc has also figured out the mental preparation for each outing. His usage is obviously unpredictable.

“I think you almost have to trick yourself thinking that every time that bullpen phone rings it’s going to be you,” he said. “There are probably one or two scenarios that’s it going to be you. But if you allow yourself to fall into that trap, that one time they need you to pick them up in a situation you wouldn’t normally throw in, then you aren’t ready.”