At one time considered for the MLB roster, Luke Weaver did not quite make the squad. As a result, he has resided in Memphis, where he is tearing up the AAA ranks.
If you asked certain scouts about Luke Weaver prior to the 2017 season, they would have argued to see him start with the Big League Club. At the very least, he would break through for good, gaining a promotion and finally making the most of it. With the rise of Mike Leake, a resurgence of Adam Wainwright, and Lance Lynn’s return, it just didn’t work out.
At that point in time, Weaver could have easily sulked, perhaps showcasing a large ego in the midst of the disappointment. Much to the contrary, however, Weaver put his head down and worked. While AAA ball is by no means a glamorous existence, he has handled it elegantly. By the nature of things, though, his hard work and consistency have gone largely unnoticed. Put simply, big league news always trumps its minor league affiliates.
In this article, he will gain the praise he deserves. Furthermore, I will discuss possible implications of his performance, the ways in which he may be able to help out in the MLB.
Diving into the statistics, let’s start with the basics. Through nine starts for Memphis, Weaver is 6-1 with a 2.33 ERA. He boasts a .99 WHIP and has struck out 51 batters in 46.1 innings pitched.
Beyond those preliminary statistics, Weaver continues to impress. Specifically, he has posted a BB% of 5.0% thus far in the 2017 season. According to Fangraphs, such a number is to be considered nearly “excellent,” 2.7% from the average (7.7%). Also, Weaver has struck out 28.5% of opposing batters, another excellent statistic. To top it all off, Weaver has a ground ball rate of 48.3%, a solid marker that he is consistently down in the zone.
As you can tell a glance at Weaver’s statistics, he is dominating AAA ball. In impressive fashion, Weaver is actually outperforming Alex Reyes when he played in Memphis. On the surface level, he has more wins and less losses, posting a better ERA along the way. More importantly, Weaver has struck out batters at a higher rate, walking fewer while doing so. While the comparison ignores many important factors, it does indeed help accentuate Weaver’s performance thus far.
While the Cardinals starting pitching has performed very well this year, I believe there still remains an argument for Weaver’s promotion. Right now may not be the perfect time, however he deserves a shot sometime down the line. As I will explain shortly, there is a very distinct reason for such an opinion.
Starting with the big league club, let’s review a couple statistics. First, and as I have previously mentioned, the pitching has performed well. In fact, St. Louis is 5th in the MLB in team ERA (4.20). Unfortunately, however, the Cardinals defense as a whole has not fared so well. According to Fangraphs, the Cards have the 21st defense in the league, something the organization is definitely not accustomed to.
Ok, that seems simple. How, though, does this have to do with Weaver?
Usually, in baseball, coaches preach to pitchers, telling them to stay in the zone and let their defense do the work. Put simply, throw strikes, throwing accurate, yet difficult pitches to hit. As a result, coaches and pitchers hope for more ground balls, less pitches, and maximum efficiency. With such efficiency, the defense stays on their toes, playing with heightened focus and energy. Essentially, pitching to contact incites better defense.
With Weaver, I believe the potential exists to become just this style of pitcher. He throws tons of ground balls (48.7%), a number that will undoubtedly rise as his strikeouts will most likely drop through a promotion. Coupled with a microscopic walk percentage, I believe Weaver will pitch with tempo and efficiency, keeping the defense alert, therefore inspiring better performance overall. Though he does not possess the nasty stuff of pitchers like Martinez or Reyes, he could be extremely valuable nonetheless, starting or otherwise.
In summary, Weaver is tearing up AAA Memphis, perhaps pitching in a league with simply inferior talent. Upon his inevitable promotion, I expect his efficient style to promote better defensive play on the part of the Cardinals, an improvement that will hopefully permeate outwards.