The case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Weaver
We’ve seen Jered Weaver pitch for 11 years in Anaheim. He has been one of the most successful starters in club history ending the 2016 with 150 wins, which is second on the Angels all-time list. But he has lost a step & some velocity so…
Jered Weaver has been a starting pitcher for as long as he can remember. A standout at local Cal State Long Beach, Weaver was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the first round with the 12th overall pick in 2004. Weaver blew through the minor leagues and made his debut May 27th, 2006 at just 23 years old.
Ten years later at 33 years old, Weaver is at the end of his contract and could be at the end of his career. His fastball tops out at 84-86 mile per hour. Well below the major league average. So how is he still pitching in the majors at this point if he is throwing so slow? The answer is simple. The guy just knows how to pitch.
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Weaver may not be throwing as hard as he used to be but he still owns one of the most deceptive deliveries in baseball, throwing across his entire body. His six foot seven inch frame allows him to release the baseball closer to home plate than most pitchers in the game as well. He also has impeccable location. When Weaver is able to throw pitches in the spots that he wants them, his slow curveball looks unhittable.
However, he isn’t always able to locate those spots and he can’t sneak a fastball past hitters like he once was able to. So what happens to the long-time Angel now? Does he end his career after this season and fade away or does he try to salvage a couple more seasons in Anaheim? Does he sign with a new team?
Weaver has been susceptible to the long ball this season, which isn’t too surprising when you consider when he misses, he’s basically throwing up meatballs to be hit into oblivion. He gave up a career high 37 home runs this season. Weaver also had his second lowest strikeout total (103) in his career.
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One thing that the Angels seem to have more than enough of (when they aren’t on the disabled list) is starting pitching. To start this season, we saw a battle between Matt Shoemaker and Nick Tropeano for the final starting spot. Shoe won that battle and will be back next season. Coming off of his most impressive season since his rookie one, two years ago. Garrett Richards looks to be bypassing Tommy John surgery and is hoping to be back for the start of the 2017 season.
Ricky Nolasco has an inside track on making the starting rotation after his strong finish in 2016. too. Tyler Skaggs also came back strong from his Tommy John surgery and will assuredly be in the starting rotation. Newcomer Alex Meyer, who was acquired in the Hector Santiago trade, will most likely be the fifth starter.
So with all of the five starters in place, Weaver could sign a year contract and comeback to the Angels and battle Meyer for a spot in the rotation. But is that where he would be used best?
Weaver finished the season strong pitching six innings in five of his last seven starts. He also lowered his ERA from 5.47 to 5.03 by posting a 3.85 ERA during that span. What impressed me the most was Weaver’s 34 strikeouts and only 14 walks in the 39.2 innings he pitched in those seven starts with a WHIP of 1.23 in that span. Weaver also gave up only seven homers as well.
Overall, Weaver finished the season with a 12-12 record and a 5.03 ERA. His WHIP was 1.46 and he had 103 strikeouts and 51 walks in 178 innings. Weaver also gave up 37 homers which is out one every five innings
So the question then becomes which Weaver would we be getting Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Weaver? The Weaver who ended the last six weeks of the season or the one who compiled a 9-11 record with a 5.47 ERA and 30 homers in 23 starts.
My Solution to this dilemma
I think that bringing Weaver out of the bullpen as a long reliever would be the Angels best hope for having a successful 2017 season. First time through the lineup, is when Weaver is usually when Weaver is at his best. Given the off-season to be able to get himself warmed up quicker than he does as a starter and I think Weaver could be a big pick me up for the Angels who need bullpen help. If there is a need Weaver could do a few spot starts to fill-in for an injured pitcher as well.
Would Weaver be willing to primarily come out of the bullpen, is yet to be determined. It will depend on what kind of offers he receives from other teams. Weaver is still a starting pitcher at heart. So one would expect him to leave his beloved hometown Angels to go to a team that is willing to let him be a starter.
Weaver could also convert into a closer like Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz did later in their careers. He has the competitive fire and the right mentality to do so. Now, I’m not comparing Weaver to the talent of Eckersley and Smoltz, just saying it has been done before.
Whatever route the Angels take with Weaver most Halo fans are hoping they have not seen the last of Good Ol’ #36.