After struggling to reach 80 miles per hour with his fastball Wednesday and then undergoing an MRI exam, Angels right-hander Jered Weaver has been diagnosed with what the team is calling nerve tightness in his neck.
Weaver showed a good sense of humor about the whole situation, telling Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com: “The third homer that I watched go out kind of hurt my neck a little bit.”
However, neither Weaver nor the Angels can feel very good about his consistently declining velocity and the lack of a clear-cut reason for his issues.
I just feel like it’s neck tension that is causing me to not be able to throw the ball like I want to. I guess it’s going to kind of help to get a professional doctor to go from there.
Gonzalez reports that Weaver plans to continue throwing and is on track to be ready for the season, but his next start should make the odds of that happening much clearer and there’s no timetable for that.
Weaver had career-worst numbers across the board last season, has lost velocity on an annual basis, and is in the final year of his contract with the Angels, so the 33-year-old three-time All-Star has a lot riding on this season.
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.