After starting 2016 with a rotation including Tyson Ross, James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and Drew Pomeranz, the Padres’ 2017 rotation is stacked with question marks. In the midst of a pack of hopefuls, competing for the 2017 rotation, Jered Weaver seems to be a strong favorite to snag a spot. Weaver, previously of the Angels, signed a 1 year/ $3 million deal this offseason, bringing 11 years of MLB experience to San Diego.
About Jered: Jered David Weaver, 6’7, 210lbs, and 34 years old, was born in Northridge, California. After attending Simi Valley High School, Jered went to California State University, Long Beach, where he became a member of their Athletics Hall of Fame. Drafted by the Angels in 2004 (12th overall pick), Weaver made his major league debut in May of 2006. He is married to Kristin Travis, and together they have 2 children.
Fun Facts – Jered is the younger brother of former MLB pitcher Jeff Weaver, and the two were teammates in the Angels organization in 2006. Towards the end of the 2006 season, older brother Jeff Weaver was designated for assignment to make room for Jered. In 2009, the brothers faced off, with Jered starting for the Angels, and Jeff starting for the Dodgers, with Jeff snagging the win.
Career: Over 11 seasons with the Angels, Weaver has put up a career 3.55 ERA, with a WHIP of 1.18, 150 Wins, and 1598 strikeouts. He is a 3-time American League All-Star (2010-2012) and finished 2nd in Cy Young voting in 2011. According to Brooks Baseball, Weaver throws 6 pitches, relying mostly on his 4-seam fastball and curve, while mixing in his sinker, change-up, slider, and cutter.
2017 Outlook: As a Padres fan, I would love to tell you that Weaver still has his best stuff, and can hurl with the elite pitchers of the NL West. However, Weaver has seen a steady drop in fastball velocity from his younger days of 90+mph, to just an 84 mph average. His ERA and WHIP have risen from excellent ratios in 2011 and 2012 into career high numbers in 2015 and 2016. The number of home runs Weaver has allowed has risen since 2013, and his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) has markedly increased since 2011.
While many metrics show Weaver in a steady, aging, decline, there is some room for optimism. This off-season, Weaver has stressed an emphasis on flexibility and feels “10 steps ahead of where I was last year.” Padres skipper Andy Green has echoed Weaver’s optimism. While it is not uncommon to hear overblown Spring Training hype, Weaver did post a few impressive starts in late 2016, most notably a complete-game shutout against the Athletics.
Overall, is Weaver an ace starting pitcher? Heck no. However, he is a crafty starter, with a lot of big league experience. In an interview with MLB.com, Weaver spoke about his role as a rotation leader, stating “I’m going to try to help out as much as possible.” This is definitely a boon to the Padres. While I do not see him drastically improving his lackluster numbers from recent years, there remains some room for enthusiasm. During the current Padres rebuild, having a veteran pitcher who is referred to as “…a winner…” by G.M. A.J. Preller, is definitely helpful. After his second outing of the spring, Weaver declared, “offspeed stuff is coming along. But the most important thing is feeling healthy.” I wouldn’t count on a substantial bounce-back campaign, but I am definitely interested to see what Weaver can bring to the 2017 Padres.