Jered Weaver got himself back on track following a shaky stretch in which his ERA rose from 1.78 to 2.49 in five starts, tossing eight innings of one-run ball against the Yankees on September 9 and seven innings of one-run ball versus the A’s on Wednesday.
However, with Weaver just three innings away from tying his career-high workload Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles notes that the right-hander’s velocity is down compared to early in the season.
Here are Weaver’s average fastball velocities by month from Fan Graphs:
April: 90.3 mph
May: 89.7 mph
June: 88.7 mph
July: 89.1 mph
August: 88.7 mph
September: 87.9 mph
Weaver has never been the type of pitcher to blow away hitters with fastball velocity, but he certainly seems to be wearing down somewhat. Not coincidentally his ERA has jumped from 1.86 in the first half to 3.33 in the second half and his strikeout-to-walk ratio has declined from 3.8 to 2.8.
And with the possibility of Weaver starting on short rest Sunday the Angels have to wonder how much he’ll have left in the tank if they somehow make the playoffs.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.