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.