A little more than two weeks ago, I wrote about how Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson were pitching like an elite 1-2 punch for the Angels. And although Wilson still has an outside shot at 20 wins this season (very outside shot), Jered Weaver has continued to go about his business as the Ace of the Angels staff. Velocity be damned, Weaver is going to make hitters miss pitches.
Although Weaver’s fastball as back to at least touching 91 MPH (it has in each game since coming back from the DL), his average velocity is still in the 86-88 MPH range. Which scares nobody. Especially not Major League hitters. But that hasn’t stopped him from putting together a string of starts where he has been as dominant as he has ever been.
The last time that Jered took a loss, it was on July 13th. He got knocked around for four runs in 6.2 innings. It was the fifth time in his first 11 starts that he had allowed that many runs in a game. In 30 starts last season, he allowed four or more runs six times. In 2011, five times. Starting to get the picture? Weaver was as hittable as ever this year. But in his last five starts, he’s been as unhittable as his breakout 2010 season.
In his five starts since that July 13th game against the Seattle Mariners, Weaver has an ERA of 1.49, which is the fifth best in the American League over that span. His WHIP of 0.881, is sixth best. And his swing and miss rate of 23.4% is 15th best in the Junior Circuit. And that 23.4% is a rather important number.
But why, Mike? Why is 23.4% an important number?
Well, gather ’round children. Let Uncle Mike tell you a story.
When Jered broke out in 2010, it wasn’t the run prevention (3.01 ERA) that got me excited. It wasn’t the innings pitched (224.1) that got me excited. It was that Weaver was finally missing bats and racking up strikeouts. It’s hard to trust people these days. The Post Office loses mail. The IRS. That dad gum government. Weaver took matters into his own hands with 233 strikeouts that season (10th most by an Angel in a single season), good for a strikeout rate of 25.8%.
But his K-rate hasn’t approached those numbers since. He continues to get hitters out, but he’s at the mercy of the Angels defense which, this season, is the last thing that a pitcher wants to be at the mercy of. But it’s why these last five starts of Weaver’s have been so good. That snapshot 23.4% K-rate is as close to the Weaver’s 2010 season as we have seen in awhile, and with 23.4% of all strikes for Weaver during that span being of the swing and miss variety, there stands a very good chance that that dominance continues.
Jered Weaver is not going to be in the Cy Young conversation this season. Sure, he may get a few votes, but he’ll be buried at the bottom of the ballot. Not enough dominance + injury = better luck next year. Besides, the Cy is pretty much Max Scherzer‘s to lose at this point. Pitching wins are silly, but so is the BBWAA. Weaver can, however, finish the season strong and we can hope that that carries over into next year. Because, let’s face it, 2013 might as well be over, but with this much talent, it’s hard to not expect better in 2014.
And with Weaver finding that little bit of velocity that he was missing, and finding that little bit of deception to throw hitters off, his 2014 season could be the kind of season that further cements his status in Angels history. He wont be the Nolan Ryan of this generation, but he could be the Chuck Finley with regards to strikeouts.