It may have only been a Spring Training start, but for Jered Weaver, it could not have gone much better.
After a 2013 season that saw Weaver miss a month with a fractured elbow, a decline his fastball velocity by almost three miles per hour since 2011 and a skyrocketing line drive rate, Weaver decided to change his approach to the offseason. He worked on his offspeed pitches for the first time during an offeseason and trained with a massage therapist. With this change in approach, Weaver hoped that he would be more prepared for Spring Training and the regular season.
Thus far, the returns have been positive. In his first start of Spring Training, Jered Weaver pitched three innings, striking out one and allowing only an infield single. Even though his fastball remained around 87 MPH, where it was last year, his changeup was more effective than it appeared to be last season.
Yes, this is one game in Spring Training. Pitching is typically ahead of hitting, at least in the early portion of Spring Training. Yet, this start is still a positive sign for Weaver. After finding himself getting hit harder than he had been in 2013, Weaver allowed only one hard hit ball, which led to an out. He was able to mix his pitches and change speeds effectively. After the season he had last year, it is an encouraging sign to see Weaver start Spring Training on the right foot.
It may be possible that, as Weaver gets stretched out and more accustomed to pitching in game situations, that his fastball velocity increases as Spring Training progresses. While he is never going to be confused for any of the flamethrowers in baseball, Weaver has been highly effective while pitching in the 90 MPH range. With the increased difference between his fastball and changeup, Weaver can keep the opposition more off balance than he had last year.
With a generally unproven back of the rotation, the Angels are going to need both C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver to pitch at their accustomed levels. For at least one start in Spring Training, Weaver appeared to be ready to do his part.