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For the first time in a long time, there might be reason to be concerned about Weaver


jshep

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http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/jered-weaver-and-the-giant-red-flag/

 

Last night, Jered Weaver’s fastball sat at 85 MPH, the slowest average velocity he’s had during the PITCHF/x era. In fact, since the start of 2008, Weaver has only had an average fastball velocity below 86.0 mph three times; his final start of 2012 and his first two starts of 2013.

 

In those three starts, here is Weaver’s total line: 12 IP, 11 H, 8 BB, 7 K, 2 HR. In those starts, he’s posted a 6.00 ERA/6.25 FIP, and simply hasn’t looked like the Jered Weaver of old. Or, even the Jered Weaver of late last summer.

 

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July 15th, the Yankees hit three long balls off of him, the start of a three month problem with the long ball. Over his final 15 starts, he allowed 15 home runs, and during that stretch, his fastball went from 88 mph down to 86 mph. Continuing the trend out to last night, he’s now lost three miles-per-hour off his fastball over his last 17 outings, and he’s allowed 1.49 HR/9 over 102 innings during that span.

 

From his MLB debut until July 14th, 2012, he had a career HR/9 of 0.92. His HR rate in his last 17 starts is 61% higher than his career HR rate up to that point.

 

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Velocity isn’t everything, and velocity loss is not always a sure sign of injury. But, as Bill Petti has noted with his excellent series of articles on the subject over the last year, sudden drops in velocity can be the sign of larger problems. At a minimum, it appears that Weaver’s slower fastball is dampening his ability to give up non-homer fly balls, which has always been his biggest asset. Even if the decreasing fastball speed isn’t pointing towards a more significant health issue, a homer-prone Weaver simply isn’t going to be as effective as he used to be.

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I'm sure the wind blowing out played a big part in his decreased velocity and the homeruns given up yesterday.  I'd wait a few more starts before you panic.

I'm not panicking yet, but it is a trend that goes back further than the beginning of this season, so it's definitely something to keep an eye on over his next few starts and can quickly become really troubling.

Especially with how reliant on Weaver being Weaver this pitching staff is.

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I mentioned this velocity loss in the "More From Angelswin.com" series about 2013 Projections. The velocity loss is concerning and the possibility of too much wear and injury is real. However if there is any pitcher that could work in a reduced-velocity type of environment I believe Jered can, as he has an excellent mix of pitches and speeds combined with pin-point control. It will probably effect him negatively in terms of regular ratio/counting stats like ERA but unless he goes on an extended DL stint (read: serious injury) I'm not horribly worried (read: concerned with some negative impact to his overall performance).

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I read somewhere that Verlander, Sabbathia, Halladay, Cain and Strasburg had their velocity down so far this season.

 

It could have been the wind as mentioned, as Darvish usually hits 94-96 mph and his FB was averaging in the high 80's to low 90's last night. I think he hit 95 just once. Weaver's top radar reading was 88 last night, but usually in the 85-86 range. 

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I just wonder about the change in arm slot...  Why change something that was working very well?  It is still early, I will reserve my concern if he is struggling still at the end of May.

he said he changed it partially due to arm discomfort. according to weaver, his arm was feeling the best it had in a long time this spring

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I normally wouldnt worry since he is a deception-type pitcher, and there are plenty of players in the league who say they least wanted to face him, but there gets to a point where a fastball can't really be called a fastball, and hovering around 85-86 MPH, that's a little league fastball.

 

I trust Weaver's skills as a pitcher, and his ability to adapt, but I worry that he isn't a bonafide ace anymore.

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