Jered Weaver, eyes wide shut (USAT)
Starting pitchers are the newborn babies of fantasy baseball. They're cookie cute in the nursery, but the moment we hear the slightest unusual noise, alarms go off. There are two types of pitchers, so the saying goes: those hurt now, and those soon to be hurt.
Today's dark cloud of worry goes out to Jered Weaver. (Don't worry, weatherheads: it never rains in Southern California.) Time for a look around.
Weaver's messy turn at Arlington on Sunday night (5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 2 K) didn't qualify as headline news. We saw a bunch of top-flight pitchers get hit over a 24-hour period, and Weaver has a terrible history in Arlington to begin with. A couple of well-struck but wind-aided homers certainly didn't help the cause.
But how confident can we feel about Weaver going forward? That's where the story gets a little dicey.
Weaver's 20-5 record from 2012 obscured some trends moving in the wrong direction. His strikeout rate fell to 6.77/9 and his 2.81 ERA wasn't supported under the hood (4.18 xFIP, 4.02 SIERA). Weaver's ordinary fastball dipped to 87.8 mph last year, the lowest readout of his career.
The velocity number is even more worrisome through a week of the new season: Weaver is averaging a mere 85.6 mph on the No. 1, a pitch he normally throws about 60 percent of the time. His current swinging-strike number is the lowest of his career. He's walked six batters (and hit another) against just six strikeouts over 11 innings.
Weaver is also dealing with a strained elbow, but it's his non-pitching elbow - that's one issue we can probably pass off. This tweak he suffered against the Rangers might keep him off the mound next weekend against the Astros (say it ain't so), but it's unlikely to be a major concern going forward.
Did you ignore Weaver's strikeout trend at the draft table? Are you unconcerned about April velocity readouts? CC Sabathia, someone I aggressively panned a week ago, didn't have any problems with the Tigers on Sunday, no matter the digits on the gun. Do you still consider Weaver a Top 20 arm, or Top 15, or Top 10? What's your Week 2 spin on the Southern California ace?
Meet me in the conference room and let's try to work through this together. But you can put me down for the Sinead O'Connor approach to Weaver: I do not want what I haven't got. Short of a giveaway price, I'm not buying. The Angels might have the best defensive outfield in the American League, but there's only so much that trio can do.
Tuesday Update, 1 pm ET: Apparently the left elbow injury was a big deal after all. It's turned out to be a fracture, and Weaver will miss 4-6 weeks. At least we can be encouraged that it's Weaver's non-pitching elbow that's pushing him to the DL.
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