Replacing Weaver Already?

The Dodgers entered spring training with guaranteed rotation spots assigned to Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Randy Wolf, and Clayton Kershaw. The fifth spot was largely up for grabs between the likes of Eric Stults, James McDonald, Jason Schmidt, Jeff Weaver, and Eric Milton. The latter three had battled injuries and bouts of ineffectiveness in recent years but had a previously established track record that merited a low risk opportunity.

Well, Stults seemingly won out, but an injury to Kuroda opened up another spot, affording McDonald the chance to build upon his relief success last season and add starts to his resume. In his last three starts, McDonald surrendered eight runs in 11 innings with a 4/11 K/BB ratio. Joe Torre was not impressed and opted to move McDonald back to the bullpen.

Jeff Weaver got the call to replace McDonald after an impressive four-inning relief outing in which he held the Padres scoreless. After two solid starts, Weaver’s seasonal line sits at 14 innings with a 2.57 ERA and 3.01 FIP. He isn’t the same guy from the Tigers days or the first Dodgers stint but Weaver at least deserved to stay in the rotation.

Instead, Joe Torre has called upon Eric Milton to get at least one start in favor of Weaver. I’m not sure if Jeff is hurt, but I would hope he is for the sake of this decision. Granted, Weaver’s sample of performance is small, but when evaluating pitchers from start to start, small samples and scouting info are the only bits of info available.

The Dodgers certainly have depth at their fifth starter spot with the aforementioned quintet pitching in either the show or at the farm, but Weaver was pitching pretty well. Did he get hurt, or is Torre simply trying to see what he has with Milton?




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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.


6 Responses to “Replacing Weaver Already?”

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  1. Eric, Dodger fans have been asking this as well.

    From my point of view (http://mikesciosciastragicillness.com/2009/05/14/i-guess-i-can-only-help-one-james-at-a-time.html) i don’t see it as a HUGE deal, because Weaver’s been good but not great, and Milton’s been good in AAA. I don’t really see the point, but it’s not so egregious as to really bother me that much. Besides, the Dodgers could always use another arm in the pen that can go a few innings, so I guess it’s okay.

    Over at FNCN (http://www.firenedcollettinow.com/2009/05/why-is-eric-milton-now-on-this-team.html) he completely disagrees, asking much the same questions you are.

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  2. xeifrank says:

    I thought I read somewhere that Weaver actually prefers to pitch out of the bullpen this year.
    vr, Xei

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  3. Tripon says:

    I am guessing that the Dodgers made a promise to give Milton a chance.

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  4. cptspandex says:

    I’m a Twins fan, and I enjoyed Milton from 2000-2003. At times he could be brilliant. The problem is that he was also just as likely to blow up. He’s far too hittable. Consequently, his career ERA stands at 5.01! While the WHIP at 1.34 isn’t terrible, the bottom line is that he gives up too darned many runs!

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  5. I’ve been harping on this for years now, but what people have been missing about Weaver, particularly over the last few years of his career, is that he’s not a very good pitcher when he’s not pitching in the pitcher friendly Detroit or LA stadiums. He’s pretty bad away from those parks, 4.23 ERA in Detroit, 3.76 ERA in LA, 4.71 ERA for his career including those parks.

    The only reason he has had and continues to have a MLB career, is the good fortune to pitch significant number of seasons in those home parks, giving other GMs the hope that if they sign him, they can catch lightening in the bottle, this time. The Dodgers are probably the only team that reliably can sign him and not look like a fool.

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