Jered Weaver: “I’m not hurt … I’ve got no answers”

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Angels right-hander Jered Weaver keeps throwing in the mid-80s, keeps insisting his diminished velocity is no big deal, and keeps getting knocked around by opposing lineups.

Sunday that meant allowing five runs on 10 hits in five innings against the Giants to fall to 0-4 with a 6.29 ERA on the season.

Weaver has just 15 strikeouts in 34 innings for a rate of 3.9 per nine innings compared to 7.1 per nine innings last season and at least 6.8 per nine innings every season from 2008-2014. He’s also served up a league-high eight home runs and opponents are hitting .310 off Weaver compared to .239 last season and .236 for his career.

After previously downplaying his slow start and lack of velocity, Weaver expressed his frustration to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times:

I’m pretty much serving [batting practice] up there now. I have to work with what I’ve got. … I’m not hurt. Everything feels good. It feels like it’s coming out a lot better than it is. It’s weird, man. I don’t know. I’ve got no answers.

Weaver never threw particularly hard and his velocity has been trending in the wrong direction for a while now:

2010: 89.9 mph
2011: 89.1 mph
2012: 87.8 mph
2013: 86.5 mph
2014: 86.3 mph
2015: 83.3 mph

However, while a decent number of pitchers are able to thrive with high-80s fastballs once the velocity dips into the mid-80s consistently the tightrope they need to walk becomes incredibly thin. Weaver won a league-leading 18 games last season with a 3.59 ERA, but at age 32 there’s definitely reason to worry about his ability to return to that level.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.