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Luke Weaver 2020 Outlook

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2019 - 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, with 69 K in 64.1 IP.

 

pitcherlist..

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2019 In Review

2019 had the feeling we were so close to something special. Weaver had been dancing around productive but not overwhelming outings across the first month, but really took off in May, allowing just eight ER across five starts and 29 frames. He had begun embracing his cutter upwards of 20% of the time, adding the proper third option his solid fastball/changeup combination needed.

However, an elbow strain ended his season entering June (save for two innings on September 21st!) and put his hype train to a skidding stop. With a clean bill of health entering spring, can we expect Weaver to pick up where he left off?

Fastball (52% usage)

For a pitch touted as a fastball/changeup approach, you’d expect better results from his four-seamer. The pitch returned just a 25% O-Swing and 8% SwStr in 2019—albeit the highest O-Swing of his career—marking an offering that relied on weak pop-ups and early strikes to survive.

Batters did hold an impressively low .239 BAA against the pitch, and there’s a chance it stays down given its .312 BABIP. I wanted to see more from the pitch to turn me into a true believer, though with his cutter stealing strikes effectively and his changeup missing plenty of bats, as long as this heater doesn’t get punished, it’ll do just fine.

Changeup (25% usage)

This is the pitch that puts Weaver on the map. It’s no Castillo or Strasburg slow ball, but a 43% O-Swing, .169 BAA, and last year’s SwStr bump to 18% does nicely to keep batters on their toes.

I would want to see slightly better whiff numbers from a pitch that Weaver relies so heavily on for success, though. Fortunately, he has his cutter to lean on when batters aren’t biting on a given day, but this is the only home for swing-and-miss upside in the arsenal.

Cutter (14% usage)

So let’s talk about this magical cutter. Weaver touched it in 2018 and pushed its zone rate another 10 points to 58% while trusting its usage closer to 20% in May before his elbow strain.

Thing is, it’s not an overwhelming pitch. It’s… fine, but that’s alright. His changeup and fastball do enough and Weaver is able to mix in the cutter effectively as he’s not an arm to fall behind quickly. Still, you’d want to see something hinting a 15% SwStr rate here, but what you have is fastball 1b to his four-seamer’s 1a.

Curveball (9% usage)

We thought that this curveball would be the pitch his cutter became, holding a 54% zone rate in 2018… and plummeting to a ridiculously low 28% clip last season. It didn’t get any whiffs to justify it and a .357 BAA forced Weaver to give priority to the much better cutter. Don’t expect many hooks this year.

2020 Outlook

With a strong changeup and two pitches to get strikes, Weaver should be a solid arm in 2020. I don’t buy his 26% strikeout rate and 2.94 ERA, but a good innings eater comfortably over a 20% strikeout rate should be in the cards for the former Card.

Realistic worst-case projection: 4.40 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 20% K rate in 110 IP

Realistic best-case projection: 3.30 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 25% K rate in 180 IP

Nick’s reluctant Luke Weaver 2020 projection:

3.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 22% K rate in 170 IP

 

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THE CUTTER. Weaver has been a four-seamer up, changeup down pitcher for as long as we’ve known him, and there’s plenty of success to be had there, but those types all require one thing: a third pitch for strikes. Castillo has his slider, kinda. Strasburg, the deadly curveball. Weaver toyed with a curveball as a Cardinal, but it wasn’t all that great, and then suddenly last season we saw the cutter show up and it worked. 57% zone rate with a 94 wRC+ was all that we need it to be: Nothing special, just good enough to allow him to take chances with his changeup out of the zone proper.

And let’s talk about that changeup. An 18% SwStr% with a 43% O-Swing is exactly what we want, and Weaver’s ability to trust the cutter in the zone allowed Weaver’s changeup to feature the lowest zone rate of its career, dropping eight points since its 2017 clip to just 33%. It’s been begging to do this for ages.

So things were going great for Weaver, featuring a 3.03 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 27% K rate through 11 starts. Then he got hurt, and that was that. Just when he was starting to get cooking, it was pulled out from under him.

Now, I understand people being hesitant to trust the high strikeout rate with a low overall 10.6% SwStr%, but keep in mind that his four-seamer held a 30% strikeout rate on its own — better than his changeup’s 25% clip. With pitchers that finish at-bats with heaters a lot (Buehler, for one, with a 31% K rate on his four-seamer), you generally see higher expressed strikeout rates than their SwStr% normally dictate.

That’s not to say I expect a repeat of a 27% strikeout rate, but with that cutter helping navigate at-bats, Weaver is primed to be a solid all-around arm for your team. The question then becomes the innings, and considering his peak was 136 in 2018, it’s hard to suggest he’s ready to push 180. Still, they’ll be of quality and I’m down for the ride.

Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 3.70 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 24% K rate in 160 IP

 

https://www.pitcherlist.com/going-deep-luke-weaver-developed-a-3rd-pitch/

lengthy write up, partial quote.

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Going Deep: Luke Weaver Developed a 3rd Pitch

I think there’s a lot to like with Weaver, but we should certainly approach him with cautious optimism. After all, if his xwOBA tru is, well, true, then Weaver is still a below-average starting pitcher, as is. I wish I could say with greater certainty, but Weaver threw just 64.1 innings on the year, which is hardly enough to say that he’s a changed pitcher.

The package is all here. Weaver already has a plus fastball-changeup combo, and now it seems that he’s got a third pitch he can throw in the zone with regularity. His curveball is still a work in progress—and unlocking that could be a huge boon—but for now, we should feel good about Luke Weaver. He has above-average command of all four of his pitches, and while he may not have Paddack’s upside, it looks like he has one thing that Paddack doesn’t: a third pitch. And a fourth isn’t out of the question. Let’s not forget he’s just 26.

 

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I believe in his stuff, but didn't he choose to treat a partially torn UCL with rest rather than surgery? Im worried about his ability to hold up this year

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25 minutes ago, Big League Choo said:

I believe in his stuff, but didn't he choose to treat a partially torn UCL with rest rather than surgery? Im worried about his ability to hold up this year

This.

It's like everyone is forgetting the forearm injury he had last year. He is a ticking time bomb and a DND

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28 minutes ago, Big League Choo said:

I believe in his stuff, but didn't he choose to treat a partially torn UCL with rest rather than surgery? Im worried about his ability to hold up this year

It wasn’t torn. The phrase I recall was “mild UCL strain.“ Of course, I don’t think there’s too much mild about a UCL injury that keeps a pitcher out for 4 months. That’s like saying a guy who just got guillotined has a mildly dislocated head. Definitely some risk.

That said... Weaver is now 9 months removed from the injury and has been able to rest most of that time. And Tanaka had a worse UCL injury, never got TJ and was fine. So there’s hope.

ADP of 180 though, I don’t think I like it. He probably slightly outperforms that if healthy, but it’s not like he has ace upside. I’m not taking that risk until he’s clearly a tier above what’s left, and I don’t think that happens until at least pick 200.

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1 hour ago, SpartyOn4 said:

It wasn’t torn. The phrase I recall was “mild UCL strain.“ Of course, I don’t think there’s too much mild about a UCL injury that keeps a pitcher out for 4 months. That’s like saying a guy who just got guillotined has a mildly dislocated head. Definitely some risk.

That said... Weaver is now 9 months removed from the injury and has been able to rest most of that time. And Tanaka had a worse UCL injury, never got TJ and was fine. So there’s hope.

ADP of 180 though, I don’t think I like it. He probably slightly outperforms that if healthy, but it’s not like he has ace upside. I’m not taking that risk until he’s clearly a tier above what’s left, and I don’t think that happens until at least pick 200.

 

Tanaka lost his "stuff" and hasn't been nearly as elite as he once was, which many attribute to the injury. He has been healthy, but I wouldn't say it was a perfect outcome. Matt Harvey another example of this.

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2 hours ago, SpartyOn4 said:

It wasn’t torn. The phrase I recall was “mild UCL strain.“ Of course, I don’t think there’s too much mild about a UCL injury that keeps a pitcher out for 4 months. That’s like saying a guy who just got guillotined has a mildly dislocated head. Definitely some risk.

That said... Weaver is now 9 months removed from the injury and has been able to rest most of that time. And Tanaka had a worse UCL injury, never got TJ and was fine. So there’s hope.

ADP of 180 though, I don’t think I like it. He probably slightly outperforms that if healthy, but it’s not like he has ace upside. I’m not taking that risk until he’s clearly a tier above what’s left, and I don’t think that happens until at least pick 200.

 

Ah thanks for correcting me, probably should have done some research before posting!

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37 minutes ago, Big League Choo said:

 

Ah thanks for correcting me, probably should have done some research before posting!

Tbf a strain IS a year. Just not a major one compared to what we normally hear about in scary injuries.

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I’d almost put money on tommy john this year. Same as Sevy. DND unless I got him late and flipped him after a few good starts. 

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10 hours ago, Ryansm11 said:

I’d almost put money on tommy john this year. Same as Sevy. DND unless I got him late and flipped him after a few good starts. 

This, he more than likely going to get hurt and the upside IMO just isn't there

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On 2/26/2020 at 1:41 PM, Sidearmer said:

 

Tanaka lost his "stuff" and hasn't been nearly as elite as he once was, which many attribute to the injury. He has been healthy, but I wouldn't say it was a perfect outcome. Matt Harvey another example of this.

 

I thought Thoracic Outlet Syndrome was what killed Harvey's career?

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14 hours ago, OaksterDan said:

I thought Thoracic Outlet Syndrome was what killed Harvey's career?

 

Yes, but this was after the damage to the UCL. I would think there's some relation there.

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On 2/26/2020 at 6:20 PM, Ryansm11 said:

I’d almost put money on tommy john this year. Same as Sevy. DND unless I got him late and flipped him after a few good starts. 

That's the thing though. You shouldn't have a problem getting him late enough, so I don't see why he should be an automatic DND. I have a hard time believing anybody is drafting him to be anything more than their 4th starter, which is still reasonable and not such a big investment that a DND player would be.

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20 minutes ago, Ace_King said:

What happened today?

That's what I came here to ask???

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1 hour ago, Ace_King said:

What happened today?

 

He pitched much better than his line. His stuff looked really sharp and he commanded it pretty well. Things just fell apart in the 4th for him, it was like a classic Nick Pivetta inning, lost the first hitter on a full count, and every ball in play thereafter just found a hole. He definitely became discouraged and lost focus after the first hitter in the 4th, hes gotta work on that but all in all not nearly as bad as the line suggest.

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I watched the first few innings (he looked great), ran a few errands, then came home and saw he gave up 6 earned runs. He also gave up quite a few hits. Disappointing. I was really hoping he could help fill the Kluber void for me. 

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Posted (edited)

that was some st louis cardinals luke weaver bs

Edited by crotchcrickets
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Bounce back game. How did he look besides the stat line?

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9 minutes ago, pbjfb said:

Bounce back game. How did he look besides the stat line?

- 39% CSW on his FB; important after his fastball getting lit up previously - 32% CWS overall - 6 Ks Command is still a bit off, but he gets SFG at Oracle next.

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I’d be cautious. Oakland strikes out a ton. I’ve fallen into a few traps with pitchers after they’ve faced Oakland.

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6 minutes ago, centerfield_ballhawk said:

- 39% CSW on his FB; important after his fastball getting lit up previously - 32% CWS overall - 6 Ks Command is still a bit off, but he gets SFG at Oracle next.


Giants offense has scored 30 runs in their last 5 games, so this isn’t anything easy

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5 minutes ago, ASHLANDARROWS1992 said:


Giants offense has scored 30 runs in their last 5 games, so this isn’t anything easy

Oakland still has a better offense and the game is at Oracle. I'm jumping on board for this start, at least.

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Anyone taking a chance on him yet?  Last 2 starts look pretty good.  1 more and I think everyone will be jumping on him.

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21 hours ago, knifeparty said:

Anyone taking a chance on him yet?  Last 2 starts look pretty good.  1 more and I think everyone will be jumping on him.


contemplating this. It is hard to trust him but he has been hot and the matchup is right. 

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