Nothing But Concern About Jered Weaver

By almost any measure, Jered Weaver‘s best two seasons came in 2010-11, when he threw well over 200 innings and was worth more than five WAR each year. My guess is that most people still think he peaked in 2012, when he was 20-5 with a 2.81 ERA, despite a terrifying decline in his strikeout rate, and if being a “20 game winner” isn’t what it used to be, it still does count for something in fantasy.

Still, headed into 2013, I think most of us were worried about an impending drop-off thanks to lessened velocity and that strikeout decline, and we got it: Weaver’s 2013 was, by most metrics, his worst since at least 2009. Of course, not many of us expected that he’d fracture his left elbow in his second start of the season and miss nearly two months, either, and that’s obviously a factor in his down year.

So then the question becomes, as Weaver heads into his age-31 season: Is he done as an ace? Done entirely? Or is there more there?

First and foremost, it’s really difficult to look at this velocity trend and not get scared off:

weaver_velocityIf you want to write off 2013 due to the broken elbow, go right ahead, but let’s not pretend that there wasn’t anything going wrong here before that. Weaver had some concerns around a sore shoulder in the second half of 2012, and it appears that the additional time off from the broken elbow in 2013 didn’t do much to alleviate that.

So that’s the bad news. Well, it’s part of the bad news. This is also bad news:

weaver_k-9

After peaking in 2010, Weaver’s K/9 has steadily dropped, even as the major league average has increased, and he’s now a below-average strikeout pitcher heading into his age-31 season.

But if he’s not striking people out, surely he’s found another way to avoid hard contact, right? Oh.

weaver_ldI have to be honest; I went into this expecting my answer would be “Weaver’s certainly not an ace, but he’s still a solidly above-average pitcher,” and now I’m second-guessing even that, because the warning signs here are just huge. Weaver isn’t throwing as hard, he’s not missing bats, and he’s allowing more line drives. There’s just nothing about that you want to see in a pitcher, nor is the fact that his first-pitch strike percentage has dropped from 64.7% to 61.1% to 59.9%.

So what’s the good news? Well, you can be pretty certain about what kind of BB/9 mark you’re going to get, because Weaver has been spectacularly consistent in that department over the last four seasons — 2.17, 2.14, 2.15, 2.16. And even though he’s declining, it’s not like he was bad in 2013 — certainly not enough to suggest that he shouldn’t be drafted or anything like that. Despite making only 24 starts, he won double-digit games for the eighth year in a row — yes, referencing pitcher win numbers makes me die a little inside, but it’s relevant for fantasy — and his ERA over the last two years is just 3.02.

Still, it’s looking more and more like that’s being done with smoke and mirrors. Weaver’s xFIP has been north of four in both of the last two seasons, and his FIP isn’t far behind. Everything important is headed in the wrong direction, and if his shoulder woes return, all bets are off. I wouldn’t mind taking him to fill out a roster, but not a whole lot more than that, and you know someone is going to overdraft him based on his name. Don’t let it be you. 




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Mike Petriello lives in New York and writes about the Dodgers daily at Dodgers Digest, as well as contributing to ESPN Insider. He wrote two chapters in the 2014 Hardball Times Annual as well as building The Hardball Times site, and was an editorial producer at Sports on Earth. Find him at @mike_petriello.

4 Responses to “Nothing But Concern About Jered Weaver”

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  1. srpst23 says:

    Sounds like a good name to toss out for a buck at the auction draft. If no one else bids (unlikely) you get a decent pitcher for a buck, and if a couple of guys still like him, you get money off of the table and fill up someone else’s roster spots. I’ve found the latter to be more beneficial, as I don’t know how many times at the end of a draft I’ll get my sleeper super cheap because other owners don’t have any roster spots left, yet still have some money.

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  2. gump says:

    Any reason to use /9 instead of %?

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  3. MLB Rainmaker says:

    I get the argument and appreciate the weight of the stats, but I still have a gut feel about Weaver, because he’s a different sort of pitcher. He’s able to post a 3.27 ERA with 86mph “heat”, because he has a TON of deception in his delivery. If you’ve seem him pitch, he steps out towards 3B then slingshots the ball from behind his back with big cross-body motion, making it very hard to pick up and giving him a lot of movement.

    For color, look at Verlander’s velocity from his peak in 2010 — he’s down more than 2 full mph and his xFIP is on the way up, with no injury issues, but there isn’t the same concern there. Why? Because he’s still putting up solid numbers, still able to dial it up in big spots, and seems to have made the decision to pitch vs. throw.

    I get the case against Weaver is stronger, and there aren’t many positive signs, but its entirely possible that Weaver has consciously backed off because he can. At 150 IP, Weaver was Top 10 in the AL in ERA — would you change anything if you were getting those type of results? Do you think the Angels care that he’s down in velocity if he keeps up those numbers?

    I personally don’t love him cause he doesn’t get Ks, but if you fools won’t spend $5 on him, I’ll take him all day long. I’d feel very happy at $9-$10.

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    • Swfcdan says:

      But how is he getting those results? His velocity’s dropping every year, his K’s are falling too, and he’s giving up more and more line-drives.

      That sounds like luck to me. Ok he’s a fly-ball pitcher and knows how to use his spacious park, I’d imagine he gets a ton of fly outs, but there’s way too many red flags on this guy now. Absolutely no way am I touching him anymore in drafts.

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