Over his eight-year career in the majors, Jered Weaver has been nothing short of a great starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, but last season, there was some cause for concern.
In the 2013 regular season, Weaver missed a month and half of the year with a fractured left elbow that he suffered in early April that forced him to miss about six starts. After returning in late May, where he had a great first start by going six innings with five hits and one run allowed, Weaver struggled in his first full month of action. In five starts in June, The right-hander had a 0-3 record with a 4.40 ERA, 32 hits allowed, 23 strikeouts and a .271 opponent’s batting average in 30.2 innings pitched.
He would return to form in July, as he would have a 4-1 record in six starts with a 1.32 ERA, 37 strikeouts, .207 opponent’s batting average, 0.95 WHIP, and just one home run allowed in 41.o innings pitched. But in the following month, Weaver would have another rough handful of outings, as he posted a 4-2 record in six start with a 4.31 ERA, seven home runs and 36 hits allowed, a month-high of 10 walks allowed, two hit batters, and 29 strikeouts in 39.2 innings pitched.
The 31 year old would finish the season in his last four starts in September going 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA, 26 hits allowed, 15 strikeouts in 26.0 innings pitched. This would amount to a 11-8 record with a 3.27 ERA, 117 strikeouts, 37 walks, 139 hits allowed, 1.14 WHIP in 154.1 innings pitched.
For Weaver, the 2013 season was full of ups and downs that featured two months of above 4.00 ERA, his lowest amount of starts and innings pitched in a season since his rookie campaign in 2006, and tied for his lowest amount of wins (11) in a season. Along with his subpar year, the three-time All-Star also continued to lose velocity on his pitches, as his fastball’s average speed dropped even further from 88 MPH to about 86 MPH.
Weaver’s arm may not be what it once was, but he has shown that his stuff is still there, as he is relying more on his off-speed pitches (such as the changeup) more often in the past couple of seasons, with his velocity continuing to drop. With his declining velocity, Weaver must begin to mimic former pitchers, such as Greg Maddux, who was a pitcher who lacked arm strength but used his craftiness with his pitches to get batters out.
If Weaver does not look to adopt this style of pitching, he is in for a world of hurt, as batters will begin to do more damage against him knowing that he is having difficulty adjusting to his lost velocity. This can be perfectly exemplified by the struggles of C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander‘s struggles last season, as they had problems changing their game to according to their lack of speed.
But with said, Weaver is a smart pitcher who knows that his velocity on his pitches are not what they used be, and he will adjust to that by continuing to rely on his off-speed stuff in order to have success. So, barring any type of injury, Weaver should be back to his dominant form as one of the best pitchers in the majors and as the ace of the Angels’ pitching staff.