Jered Weaver Set To Return

By MJ Lloyd

The Angels get their ace back.

Jered Weaver will get back on the mound after his DL stint Wednesday night against the Giants. The lanky right-hander landed on the disabled list on 5/29 with a lower back strain. It marks only the second time Weaver needed a DL break in his career and first since shoulder inflammation put him there on 4/1/2007.

The Angels pitching staff has been holding its own during Weaver’s absence. Despite the disastrous start to Ervin Santana‘s 2012, the Angel starters lead the American League with a group 3.48 ERA. C.J. Wilson is leading the way with a 2.44 ERA but Weaver isn’t far behind with a 2.61 ERA. Make no doubt, though, Weaver is the ace. His 3.00 FIP (fielding independent pitching) is best among the starters and his 1.8 fWAR (Fangraphs wins above replacement) would probably have replaced Wilson’s 2.1 fWAR had he not missed a few starts. Weaver also leads the Angels staff with one no-hitter this season.

Weaver’s return to the mound could mean we’ll see a shake-up in the rotation. Rookie Garrett Richards has pitched well in the three starts he’s made since being called up. Richards has a 0.86 ERA (or 3.77 FIP) in his 21.0 innings this season. Meanwhile, Santana is on pace to serve up 211 home runs. Okay, 35 homers by ZiPS projection but I think that’s conservative. Santana is tied with Tommy Hunter with 18 home runs allowed for the most in baseball. Santana could, or should, be headed to a bullpen role.

That could also depend on the health of Jerome Williams who left Tuesday’s game with breathing problems and was hospitalized. Williams has since been released from the hospital but the team is monitoring his condition.

Weaver will be eased back in as Mike Scioscia plans on keeping him to a 80- to 90-pitch range.It will just be nice for the Angels to get their ace back on the bump.