Baseball BeatJuly 17, 2005
He's Baaack!
By Rich Lederer

Jered Weaver struck out 11--including a half dozen in a row--en route to a six-inning, three-hit, one-run outing while earning the win over the Lancaster JetHawks Saturday night. Weaver has now won his last three starts but, more importantly, pitched the best game of his four-week-old professional career.

Fellow Scott Boras client, June 2004 draftee, and holdout Stephen Drew went 0-for-2 against Weaver. Hitting third, Drew struck out swinging to end the first inning, walked in the fourth, and flied out to left in the sixth. The shortstop was the first of six consecutive strikeouts for the 6-foot-7 right-hander from Long Beach State.

After a reasonably impressive debut, Weaver was hit hard by the Stockton Ports and the Lake Elsinore Storm in his next two starts. He righted the ship in his fourth outing vs. Bakersfield and followed that up with a strong performance last Monday against High Desert. Saturday night's game was the first time Weaver completed six innings this year.

Game Log:

           IP   H    R   ER   BB   SO 
6/20/05   3.0   3    1    1    2    4      --
6/25/05   2.1   5    4    4    0    5   (L, 0-1)
6/30/05   4.0   8    7    5    1    4      --
7/05/05   5.0   2    2    0    0    7   (W, 1-1)
7/11/05   5.2   3    3    3    1    8   (W, 2-1)
7/16/05   6.0   3    1    1    1   11   (W, 3-1) 

Totals 26.0 24 18 14 5 39

Rate Stats:

 H/9   SO/9   BB/9   K/BB   HR/9   WHIP    ERA
8.31  13.50   1.73   7.80   1.04   1.15   4.85

Over his last three starts, Weaver has thrown 16 2/3 innings, allowing 8 hits, 6 runs (4 earned), and 2 walks, while striking out 26. He has gradually increased his pitch count from approximately 50 toward 100 and his arm strength apparently is close to where he was a little over a year ago when he led the Dirtbags to the Super Regionals and was honored by winning all of the collegiate player of the year awards.

In total, Weaver has K'd 36% of the batters faced. By comparison, Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez, the respective leaders in the American and National Leagues, have whiffed 28% of the hitters. Of the 78 outs, Jered has gotten 39 of them by strikes, 10 on the ground, 27 via the air, one pickoff, and another trying to stretch a single into a double. Weaver has given up three home runs but only one in his last 20 innings of work.

Now that Weaver has found his groove after a long layoff, I would expect that the Angels will promote him to Arkansas, their Double-A affiliate in the Texas League, sooner rather than later. Former teammate Howie Kendrick (.384/.421/.638) was called up to Arkansas on Saturday prior to the game. Look for Quakes shortstop Brandon Wood (.307/.371/.656), who slugged his minor-league-leading 30th home run on Wednesday, to join his longtime keystone partner before the year is out.

In the meantime, Drew is tearing up the California League and should be in line for a promotion to Tennessee, Arizona's Double-A affiliate in the Southern League.

 G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  TB  BB  SO  SB  CS   AVG  OBP  SLG   
24  94  22  35  10   2   8   28  73  15  19   0   0  .372 .464 .777

Weaver is scheduled to face the Inland Empire 66ers for the first time on Thursday, July 21. Another dominating performance could send the four-million-dollar man from his native California to Little Rock, Arkansas before the month is out. You know, he just might be a Traveler in more ways than one.


I believe Wood also leads all professional baseball with that 30th dinger. Andruw Jones and Derrick Lee are currently tied at 27 each, and I don't believe anyone at any other level has as many.

I'm very much looking forward to getting Weaver to the Angels. It's far from clear what they'll be getting once he arrives, but there is a reasonable hope that Weaver will be the kind of difference maker you can put at the front of a rotation. Alan Matthews suggested before the season that Weaver would have placed sixth or seventh in their system had he been signed.

That G/F ratio is awfully scary considering the Angels' current flycatchers, though. Jarrod Washburn worked fine in 2002 with All-Universe Darin Erstad in centerfield (116 Rate2), a fully functional but still below average (96 Rate2) GA in right, and an acceptable (96 Rate2). The Angels will definitely need to resolve their centerfield defense with Weaver on the mound.

As I have advocated previously, I think Weaver needs to develop a sinker or a split-fingered fastball or perhaps make his two-seam fastball an even more effective cutter.

Jered was an extreme flyball pitcher at Long Beach State, but he got away with it because he struck out so many batters and had the luxury of performing his home games at spacious Blair Field. However, in Weaver's defense, he was much more than just a beneficiary of a pitcher-friendly ballpark as evidenced by his excellence on the road during his college career plus the outstanding summer in had in 2003 when he was the ace of Team USA's staff (with a record-low 0.38 ERA, which included 45 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings).

Weaver isn't going to strike out 13 batters per nine innings in the big leagues so he needs to turn the majority of those extra balls in play into groundouts to minimize the number of home runs allowed.