Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Is There Any Reason To Believe In Luke Weaver?

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Remember when there was the thought that Luke Weaver could develop into a strong fantasy starting pitcher? In fact he was thought of well enough that he was one of the centerpieces of the trade that sent Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis. A few years later those hopes appear misguided, after Weaver imploded in 2020. Finishing the year 1-9, just look at the numbers:

52.0 IP
1 Win
6.58 ERA
1.59 WHIP
55 Strikeouts (9.52 K/9)
18 Walks (3.12 BB/9)
32.3% Groundball Rate
.349 BABIP

The strikeouts were solid and the control was good enough, so what exactly went wrong? Obviously there were home run issues, with a 1.73 HR/9, but the lack of groundballs is just the start.

It’s easy to chalk things up to a little bit of poor luck (including a 63.2% strand rate), but Weaver was hit hard with a 40.1% Hard%. Couple that with failing to generate many swings outside the strike zone (28.0% O-Swing%) and it’s easy to wonder if the struggles were more realistic then you might think.

Featuring a four pitch mix, he was only successful with one pitch during the year (BAA // SLG):

  • Fourseam – .313 // .583
  • Changeup – .227 // 387
  • Curveball – .500 // .700
  • Cutter – .313 // .625

Not surprisingly, he threw his fourseam fastball most often at 54.03%. In fact, his only strong pitch was the changeup that he used 27.27% of the time. If that’s the only pitch you can excel with, how can we expect much of a change?

If you want to argue that he isn’t as bad as last year’s overall marks, it’s fair. That said is there any reason to believe that there are going to be significant changes in the results? We had concerns entering 2020, having projected him for just 4.43 ERA. Even if you think that’s a fair expectation, is that enough of a reason to invest?

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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