Since I started the Weaver Watch on April 26, when Jered Weaver was 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA and a Season Score 56 points ahead of any other AL pitcher, Weaver’s season seems to have reversed it course entirely.
In three May starts, Weaver is 0-3 with a 5.50 ERA, adding just five points to his Season Score. After pitching into the seventh inning in each of his first six starts, culminating with two successive complete games, Weaver has pitched just six innings in each of his three subsequent starts. After leading American League starters in virtually every meaningful pitching statistic on May 1, Weaver is now sixth in ERA, ninth in xFIP, and even trails Justin Verlander in strikeouts a category Weaver led in 2010. Much like Ubaldo Jimenez’s 2010 season, Weaver seems to have run out of magic the first time he faced the Red Sox, as he yielded a then-season-high three runs in six innings to pick up his first loss on May 2. Jimenez was never again the unhittable force he had been before giving up six runs to Boston last June 23, and Weaver’s next two starts may portend a similar regression.
A deeper look, though, suggests that Weaver is still pitching at an elite level. In his three consecutive losses, he has struck out 12 batters (despite an uncharacteristic 0-k game against Cleveland on May 7th), and walked just four, maintaining a stellar 4.36 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio, third in the AL behind teammate Dan Haren and Tampa’s David Price. The two home runs Weaver surrendered to Texas last night were just the third and fourth he’s given up all year. Weaver’s been worth 1.9 WAR per fangraphs, better than any AL pitcher except Weaver. He even leads the majors in Season Score despite three straight replacement level starts, tied with Florida’s Josh Johnson and seven points ahead of Tampa’s James Shields, the next-best AL pitcher.
As my friend Nick noted in response to my initial Weaver Watch post, it’s never as bad as it looks, and it’s never as good as it looks. Weaver wasn’t going to pitch eight shutout innings with ten strikeouts and no walks every five days for six months, but this run of losses has been more indicative of a reversal of luck than a drop in performance.
After last night’s game, we may be enticed to give up on the Weaver Watch and begin the Alexi Ogando watch, but if you’re looking for a frontrunner for AL Cy Young, look no further than the guy who pitched the best in April.