Yesterday, we talked about the red flags created by Jered Weaver‘s performances over the last few months. Today brings news that Jered Weaver will be placed on the disabled list. For the Angels, this will likely be construed as a big blow. It is probably not that big of a deal in the long run.
As we noted yesterday, there are reasons to think that current Jered Weaver is likely to perform less well than classic Jered Weaver. Coming into the season, the combined Steamer/ZIPS forecast that we used for our Positional Power Rankings piece had Weaver with a 3.42 ERA, compared to a 4.83 forecast for Garrett Richards, who will be replacing Weaver in the rotation. However, you might have noticed that we have stealthily added rest-of-season ZIPS forecasts to the site, and that Weaver’s poor performance velocity have already caused both systems to degrade his forecasts. ZIPS now projects Weaver for a 3.20 ERA, up from 3.01, while Steamer adjusted him from 3.82 to 3.89.
The updated forecast for Weaver would call for an ERA of around 3.55 going forward, which is still better than Richards’ 4.84 ERA, but the gap has been narrowed a bit. And, since we’re only talking about an estimated 4-6 week window, then the difference is only going to be in effect for around 40 to 50 innings. Over that time period, it works out to about a six run difference.
Of course, it’s slightly more complicated than that. Richards will get replaced in the bullpen by a pitcher who was judged to be inferior when setting the Opening Day roster, so there may be some loss of effectiveness in relief, though since neither Steamer nor ZIPS was all that high on Richards to begin with, that shouldn’t be a big swing. There may also be a compounding effect on the bullpen by having to take a larger workload without Weaver around to eat innings, but on the other hand, the Angels could also minimize some of the effect by using off days to skip some of Richards starts, which they wouldn’t have done with Weaver.
The point here isn’t to be precise. The point here is to identify that the Angels are dealing with a downgrade that would be forecast to cost them somewhere between four and eight runs, most likely. Significant, sure, but probably not a large enough issue to change the AL West standings in a meaningful way.
And, there’s a potentially helpful byproduct that will come from Weaver spending a month on the sidelines — perhaps he’ll have time to build up strength in his right arm again. You’d expect that Weaver will go out on some type of rehab assignment before he takes the mound in Anaheim again, and giving him a chance to rest and reboot could end up being beneficial to his second half performance. So far, the version of Jered Weaver that throws 86 mph fastballs hasn’t been particularly effective. Perhaps a month off will help him get back to the version who threw 88 mph and was one of the American League’s best pitchers.
It’s possible he would have gotten there anyway. We don’t have nearly enough information to say that a month of rest will cure what ails Weaver’s right arm, but this seems like a situation where giving him a bit of a break might be relatively helpful. Would Weaver pitch well enough without the rest that this is a net negative overall? Maybe, but it’s also possible that a month on the sidelines will cause Rested Weaver to outperform Non-Rested Weaver by enough of a margin to wipe out the lost value of having Richards in the rotation for a month.
I know it’s less than satisfying to have a post without any kind of real conclusion, but that’s kind of how it goes with pitchers. We don’t know how to forecast their performance all that well even when they’re healthy, and we’re not totally sure Weaver’s right arm is healthy. Add in the large variances that come with 40 to 50 innings of pitching results, and there’s a real chance that Richards actually pitches better in the next month than Weaver would have. On the whole, this is probably not great news for the Angels, but there are so many variables that it could end up being nothing, or maybe even being positive.
Whatever you thought about the Angels yesterday, you should probably think about them today. Jered Weaver is going to spend a month or two on the DL, but there’s a pretty decent chance that it won’t matter all that much.