There’s an old expression in Major League Baseball, “As the sun sets on one Weaver, another rises from its ashes.” I have to say it was rather prophetic to predict the spontaneous combustion of Jered Weaver’s career. Then again, it’s not like there weren’t clear signs that we had reached the end of the line with our most recent Weaver. I mean the man was throwing 67 MPH in his last few starts, or years, but whatever… That brings me to today’s subject, our new shiny Weaver, complete with new car scent! I’m of course alluding to Cardinals rookie phenom Luke Weaver. The 24 year old right-hander got his first taste of the big leagues last year to mixed results. He looked brilliant at times, and caught too much of the plate at others. The issues with Weaver are rarely related to his pitching however. He’s had an inability to stay healthy over the course of his career, never exceeding 120 innings pitched in a season. As for the player himself he has one of the more exciting upsides of any arm in the minors, mixing swinging strikes, with weak contact, and elite control. Since his most recent callup in late August, Weaver has posted back to back starts with 10 Ks and 1 walk, while limiting his opponents to a .224 batting average against. There’s nothing I love more than digging into the start of a player I’ve been touting for a year plus. It’s even better when that player’s twitter handle (@DreamWeava7) has a Boston accent! I’m in LOVE!! Previously Weaver has ranked 48th (pre-season), and 60th in my mid-season, which is lofty praise. As anyone who reads my prospect work will tell you, I discount pitching prospects pretty heavily for fantasy purposes. Enough of the small talk, here’s what I witnessed in Weaver’s Sunday start.
Scouting Report: Weaver primarily works off of three pitches (four-seam, curveball, changeup) with two additional offerings used less frequently (slider and cutter). His fourseam fastball sits mid to low 90’s and accounts for 58% of Weaver’s pitch usage. He generates a high amount of swings and misses on the pitch, particularly for a fastball used with such frequency, generating whiffs at a nearly 11% clip (10.92% to be exact). His secondaries are led by his mid-80’s changeup, used 26% of the time to good results. His off-speed pitch boasts the lowest batting average against of any of his offerings at a stingy .152 average. The low average against is driven by a high groundball rate, (68.97% GB%), and a high amount of swinging strikes (16.67%). The remainder of his usage is split between 3 pitches with a majority of that usage coming on his low-80’s/high-70’s curveball. The hook is used just under 11% of the time to solid results, generating a .214 BAA, a 61% GB%, and a below average amount of whiffs (7.8%). He works in a high 80’s cutter, and mid-80’s slider from time to time.
Gorkys Hernandez – Fastball at 93 hit foul, strike 1, 92 MPH fastball on the outer-half, ball 1, high fastball inside at 94, ball 2, lo and outside fastball at 94, ball 3, 92 MPH way outside, leadoff walk to Hernandez.
Buster Posey – High fastball at 92 misses, ball 1, 85 MPH changeup just misses the gloveside black, ball 2, 83 MPH changeup too low, ball 3, jams a 91 MPH fastball in there, strike 1, high changeup just misses at 82 MPH. Weaver walks Posey.
Brandon Crawford – 92 MPH on the outer-half of the plate on the armside gets a swinging strike at 92 MPH, strike 1, another strike at 94 to the outside part of the plate, strike 2, hits him with a low 94 MPH fastball at the bottom of the zone, gets a swinging strike 3.
Pablo Sandoval – Fastball at 94 MPH gets a swinging strike, strike 1, 94 MPH on the outside part of the plate is fouled off, strike 2, 85 MPH changeup is fouled off, jams him on the inside with a 95 MPH fastball and Panda is behind it badly, as Weaver ends the inning on a swinging strike 3.
An up and down inning for Weaver, once he started to attack hitters, and not nibble Weaver’s stuff did the talking. Did a good job of getting back to back strikeouts after walking two of the first three batters. Hopefully he’s settled in, and we see the Weaver from the second half of the inning going forward.
Hunter Pence – Curveball at 77 over the plate, strike 1, 92 MPH hit to first, Martinez makes a nice stab and they get Pence at first.
Ryder Jones – 91 MPH fastball on the inside fouled off, strike 1, 84 MPH changeup hit on the ground to first for the second out.
Mac Williamson – 91 MPH fastball gets a swing and a miss, strike 1, high outside fastball at 92 MPH, ball 1, 93 MPH fastball is fouled back, strike 2, 84 MPH changeup on the outside, ball 2, another changeup outside and in the dirt, full count, 83 MPH changeup high in the zone is blasted foul, got lucky there, 94 MPH fastball is foul tipped to keep Williamson alive, 94 MPH fastball is hit hard to right and it drops for a double.
Madison Bumgarner – 93 MPH fastball gets a swing, and Bumgarner loses his bat, strike 1, tosses a fastball outside for ball 1, another fastball is fouled back, strike 2, changeup at 83 MPH gets a swinging strike 3 to end the second inning.
A nice inning by Weaver as he got two weak groundballs, before battling with Williamson and letting up the double. He came back strong against Bumgarner going right at the pitcher. It’s sad when a pitcher might be the second or third best power hitter in your lineup.
Gorkys Hernandez – 78 MPH curveball in the dirt gets a check swing and Federowicz can’t hold up, strike 1, 92 MPH fastball low as the catcher shows bunt, ball 1, 91 MPH fastball just misses, ball 2, changeup at 84 MPH gets a swinging strike 2, fastball at 92 low and inside, ball 3, full count, fastball at 92 on the outer-half is hit deep to right and Piscotty makes the catch.
Joe Panik – High fastball at 91 misses for ball 1, changeup at 83 on the outer-half strike 1, 83 MPH changeup is hit foul, strike 2, 94 MPH fastball hit up the middle and Panik legs it out for a double.
Buster Posey – Hangs an 82 MPH changeup and it’s hit up the middle for an RBI single.
Brandon Crawford – 92 MPH fastball is fouled off, strike 1, 90 MPH fastball on the outside, ball 1, low 92 MPH fastball fouled off, strike 2, 84 MPH changeup low in the zone is weakly hit to second for an easy double play ball.
After back to back hits on consecutive pitches Weaver settled in, went after Crawford, and got the best results he could with a weak groundball for an inning ending double play.
Pablo Sandoval – Drops a curveball in at 77, strike 1, goes back to the hook at 78 but just misses outside, ball 1, a low fastball under Sandoval’s knees gets a swing and lazy groundball just before the catcher, Weaver makes a hard play on the ball and tosses the ball to first for the out as he falls to the ground.
Hunter Pence – Starts off Pence with a high fastball and it’s fouled back, strike 1, follows it up with another fastball for strike 2, 84 MPH changeup over the heart of the plate gets a swinging strike 3.
Ryder Jones – Snaps off a low curveball at 77, and gets a called strike 1, goes at him with a 95 MPH fastball, but just misses for ball 1, 94 MPH fastball again on the outer-half is called a strike this time, strike 2, and Weaver goes back to till once again ramping up the fastball to 96, and getting the strike on the black.
Hands down Weaver’s best inning, as he got two strikeouts, and a weak groundout on just 10 pitches. The curveballs he snapped off on Panda were just nasty, and he followed that up with a perfect change to get Pence, and a series of crisp fastballs on the black to get Jones.
Mac Williamson – Curveball at 79 misses outside, ball 1, fastball at 93 on the outer-half is fouled off, strike 1, 94 MPH fastball high over the middle of the plate is fouled off, strike 2, another fastball is hit foul, another fastball at 96 MPH is fouled off again, slider at 87 misses high, ball 2, 2-2 count, another high fastball at 96 is hit foul, again, 86 MPH changeup in the dirt gets a swinging strike 3.
Madison Bumgarner – Slider at 87 misses badly on the outside, ball 1, fastball at 92 is too far inside, ball 2, fastball at 92 is middle-middle and the pitcher takes Weaver deep.
Joe Panik – Curveball at 79 over the plate for strike 1, 85 MPH changeup is hit to shallow right and Piscotty slides to make the final out of the inning.
You never want to see the pitcher take you deep, but Madison Bumgarner is no average pitcher at the plate. He started the inning with another battle vs Williamson, gave up the homer to Mad-Bum, and then got two solid defensive plays. Not a great inning for Weaver.
Buster Posey – 94 MPH fastball for a called strike 1, low changeup in the dirt, ball 1, 85 MPH changeup on the outer-half is slapped at by Posey and hit for an easy out to third.
Brandon Crawford – High fastball at 95 MPH on the outside gets a called strike 1, 93 MPH on the inside is fouled back, strike 2, 96 MPH fastball low and outside is fouled off, high outside fastball is taken for ball 1, 95 MPH fastball just misses on the outside, ball 2, 86 MPH slider is beat int the ground for another weakly hit out.
Pablo Sandoval – 78 MPH curveball way outside, ball 1, fastball at 94 is fouled off, strike 1, another fastball at 94 is fouled off, strike 2, 96 MPH fastball is fouled to left, 1-2 count, 86 MPH changeup is hit weakly back to Weaver for the final out.
That was a pitcher’s inning if I’ve seen one. Threw all of his offerings all over the zone, and generated 3 weak groundball outs on 13 pitches. Weaver will be out for the 7th, what an efficient outing by the rookie.
Hunter Pence – 93 MPH fastball on the outside at the knees, strike 1, 94 MPH fastball on the outside taken for strike 2, 87 MPH changeup on the outside, ball 1, 92 MPH fastball misses, ball 2, fastball inside at the knees gets a called third strike.
Ryder Jones – 78 MPH curveball misses low on the outside, ball 1, changeup at 83 gets a called strike 1, Weaver goes back to the changeup, and gets a swinging strike from Jones, low slider in the dirt for ball 2, 85 MPH changeup on the inside is hit foul, 2-2 count, 95 MPH fastball high and outside, ball 3, full count, an 82 MPH changeup on the inside freezes Jones for strike 3.
Mac Williamson – 93 MPH fastball high and outside, ball 1, 79 MPH curveball outside and in the dirt, ball 2, changeup at 83 MPH inside for a swinging strike, 83 MPH fastball hit foul on the ground, strike 2, high 94 MPH fastball for a swinging strike three, and Weaver ends his day by striking out the side in the 7th.
Pitching Line: 7 IP, 4 Hits, 2 Walks, 2 Runs, 1 Home Run, 9 Ks, Win, 105 Pitches, 70 Strikes, 11 Swinging Strikes, Game Score 67
Summary: Weaver looked excellent today, granted it was versus a weak lineup, even by San Francisco Giants standards. He was effective to both sides of the plate against both righties and lefties, and used his changeup to keep hitters off balance. Weaver only allowed four hard hit balls all day, and tended to work low in the zone. This allowed Weaver to get the groundball when needed. His fastball and changeup generate swinging strikes in any count, and his curveball was effective as he began to work it in more during the later innings. Weaver looks like he could be a must start from here until the end of the season, and is worth an add if he’s still hanging around your wavier wire.
Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings for ROS based on 12-team Roto)
Disabled List (Ranking When Active): James Paxton, SEA (5), Noah Syndergaard, NYM (8), Lance McCullers, HOU (16), David Price, BOS (24), Danny Duffy, KC (27), Brandon McCarthy, LAD (42), Jacob Faria, TB (43), Felix Hernandez, SEA (54), Aaron Sanchez, TOR (66)
- The Reds Luis Castillo will make just one more start this season, meaning this is the last appearance for the flame-throwing righty on the Top 100 in 2017. He should be squarely in the Top 50 heading into 2018.