Mar 31, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver (36) throws the ball in the third inning against the Seattle Mariners in the opening day baseball game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Jered Weaver has been, over the past five years, the ace of the Los Angeles Angeles. He had been to three consecutive All-Star games from 2010 through 2012, and finished as high as second in the 2011 Cy Young Award balloting. Although he missed time with fractured elbow last season, Weaver still managed to anchor the Angels rotation throughout the 2013 season.
Yet, there have been concerns with Weaver over the past few years. The average velocity on his sinker and fastball have each dropped by approximately three miles per hour from 2011 through 2013, while his other pitches have remained at roughly the same speed. Meanwhile, this decline in velocity has corresponded to an increase in Weaver’s line drive percentage. In 2011, Weaver allowed line drives at an 18.9% rate; in 2013, that rate had climbed to 22.4%.
Thus far, in the early going, Jered Weaver has continued to see that velocity decline. Even though it has been only two starts, Weaver’s fastball is consistently sitting in the mid 80’s with an average velocity of 86.67 MPH. That decreased speed may have a lot to do with Weaver’s rough start to the season, as he has a 0-2 record with a 6.00 ERA and has allowed four home runs. It may be fair to wonder if Weaver can survive with a continued drop in velocity.
Despite the home runs and the ERA, it may be possible that Weaver will be able to. He has not allowed a lot of baserunners, posting a solid 1.167 WHiP. His control is still as good as it usually is, with only three walks in twelve innings of work. Weaver has been able to continue his ability to miss bats, as he also has twelve strikeouts during that time.
Unlike other pitchers that tend to rack up strikeouts by the bushel, Jered Weaver has never been a pitcher who relied upon the ability to throw the ball past the opponent. Instead, Weaver knows how to pitch, getting by with deception and the knowledge of how to pitch. Although his numbers may regress should his velocity continue to decline, Weaver may well be able to pitch through that and still be a solid starter for the Angels.
For most other pitchers, such a dramatic decrease in velocity as they approach age 30 would be a concern. Instead, for Jered Weaver, this may just be the next stage in his career, and nothing to be concerned about.