Jered Weaver, the surprise strikeout king

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Jered Weaver notched just four strikeouts over seven innings against the Rangers last night, however they were just enough to give him the major league lead in strikeouts (233) over Tim Lincecum (231) and Felix Hernandez (232).

Armed with a fastball that averages around 90 mph, Weaver entered the season averaging 7.3 K/9 over his first four seasons in the major leagues. This year he has fanned 233 batters over 224 1/3 innings, good enough for 9.3 K/9, fifth among qualified starters.

According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Weaver could be the first Angels pitcher to lead the majors in strikeouts since Nolan Ryan struck out 341 in 1977.

“Changing speeds with every pitch has been a key,” Weaver said.
“Anything you can do to keep the hitters off-balance is good. When you
throw 91, you have to figure out ways to get people out.”

It’s a pretty simple way of describing his success, but not far off. I mentioned his early strikeout prowess way back in June and as the season has continued, we have seen that he has relied on his curveball more than ever before. The pitch has been nine runs above average this season according to Fangraphs, easily a career-high. This alteration in his repertoire has made his fastball — which had negative value over the past two seasons — a much more effective pitch.

You know, we have spent a lot of time lavishing praise on Felix Hernandez, and rightfully so, but the 27-year-old Weaver is another prominent example of a pitcher who is having a Cy Young-type season without the shiny win-loss record to match. By the way, he’s also 13-12, like King Felix.

Note: There’s still a chance that Weaver won’t lead the majors in strikeouts. If the Giants are forced to play a tiebreaker game on Monday, Lincecum would likely get the start. At the very least, Weaver has clinched the AL lead in strikeouts. 

Buster Posey likely to undergo season-ending hip surgery

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Giants catcher Buster Posey will likely undergo season-ending surgery on his ailing right hip, which has bothered him since May, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Executive VP of baseball operations Brian Sabean said it’s a “safe assumption” that Posey will go under the knife. The procedure would clean out bone spurs and address the labrum, which is the soft tissue around the hip socket.

Posey didn’t start Sunday’s game and went 1-for-6 on Monday against the Mets. He’s batting .286/.360/.386 with five home runs and 40 RBI in 439 plate appearances this season. It will go down as his least productive season among those in which he has appeared in 100 games.

Nick Hundley would take over full-time catching duties if Posey were to have his season cut short. Hundley has performed decently, hitting .247/.296/.452 with nine homers and 30 RBI in 199 PA.