For the fifth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season. Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series. All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis. Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.
This year’s Exit Interview series is “being brought to you by” some of the various Cardinal podcasts that are out there for your listening pleasure. Our focus this time is the Viva El Birdos podcast. John and Heather break down all the recent happenings in Cardinal Nation with the skill and approach you’d probably expect if you are a VEB reader. Find them on iTunes or check out the site!
Player: Luke Weaver
Season stats: 1-4, 5.70 ERA, 9 games, 36.1 IP, 46 H, 12 BB, 45 K, 1.596 WHIP, 4.33 FIP, -0.7 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 2
Overall grade: C+
Positives: Made his major league debut August 13 in Wrigley Field….had a 3.48 ERA in his first six starts….had a 6-3 record and a 1.40 ERA in Springfield….made one start in Memphis, a six-inning, two-hit, no-run outing, before being promoted….righties hit .264 against him….much better at home, at least in BAA (.239 vs. .343)….struck out more than a batter per inning….second place hitters had a .222 BAA….when batters swung at the first pitch, they hit .205….batters hit just .200 leading off an inning….limited hitters to a .501 OPS between pitches 51 and 75….the Brewers were the only team he faced twice and they hit just .191 against him.
Negatives: Numbers were skewed by some rough late outings….Allowed six runs in his final start, which was in Coors Field, lasting only two innings….allowed five runs in his only relief appearance, a 0.2 inning outing against the Reds….numbers could have been worse, but the six runs he allowed against the Giants were unearned….overall, in his last three appearances, he threw just 5.1 innings and had an ERA over 18….batters hit .311 against him overall….allowed seven home runs, including one in each of his first five starts….lefties had a 1.025 OPS against him….had a 6.08 ERA on the road….his ERA for September was 8.22….in five of his eight starts, he got two or less runs of support….batters hitting first had a 1.143 OPS….batters hit .349 if they took the first pitch.
Overview: When the year began, basically all of the focus for those looking at minor league pitchers was on Alex Reyes. Even with his suspension, he was considered the crown jewel of the organization. Weaver quickly proved that he was not chopped liver by any means, though, and when August rolled around, while Reyes was technically promoted first, they were both announced at the same time and Weaver was the one to be a starter. Getting the call to face the Cubs in their home park for your first outing had to be daunting for him, but it didn’t show and save for the home run trait immediately flaring up, Weaver pitched well and set himself up for a good run.
Of course, when you aren’t throwing 101 like Reyes, sometimes you have to make adjustments a little more quickly. The league seemed to figure him out in his last few outings, and it’s tough to blame fatigue since he threw almost as many innings in 2015 as he did in 2016. Still, there’s a lot to like about Weaver and while his rep might have gotten a little tarnish on it in September, it still shines pretty brightly.
Outlook: I’ve said before that Reyes and Weaver are kind of like Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty. One the star, a player that looks to be a huge name in all of baseball. The other a more consistent threat, a guy with less of a ceiling but he’s going to give you that higher floor almost every time out. We’ll see if that analogy holds throughout the coming years. Of course, there’s also a chance we’ll have to find out from afar. With all the pitching options, Weaver could be the key to acquiring a quality player in the trade market.