Since his disastrous AZ Diamondbacks debut against the LA Dodgers, pitcher Luke Weaver has shown confidence and command in each of his other five starts. Although he did not figure in this past Sunday’s decision, he is beginning to demonstrate his importance to this team and the fans. Through the six games that he has pitched thus far he has 36 strikeouts in 31 innings and a 3.73 ERA. Even better, he has only seven walks with only three issued in his last four starts. He is showing confidence on the mound, attacking hitters with the location of his pitches. That is what is needed to keep his team in the game.
How Luke Weaver Made it to the Majors
The St. Louis Cardinals selected Weaver out of Florida State University in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft, and assigned him to the rookie league GCL Cardinals. He spent 2015 with high Class-A Palm Beach. At the time he was rated as a top five pitching prospect in the Cardinals system.
A fractured wrist kept him from making his 2016 debut for the Springfield Cardinals until June 4. Then, after 77 innings, with 88 strikeouts and a 1.40 ERA, he was promoted to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.
On August 13, 2016, the Cardinals called him up from Memphis to make his major league debut. Weaver pitched four innings, giving up two runs, four hits, three walks while striking out three batters. Luke began the 2017 season back in Triple-A and he earned the title of Pacific Coast League Player of the Month in May. The Cardinals recalled and optioned him multiple times during the season but was on the roster full time as of August 17. He began 2018 with St. Louis as a member of their starting rotation but was moved to the bullpen in mid-August after compiling a 6–11 record with a 4.67 ERA in 24 starts. He finished the 2018 season with a 7–11 record, a 4.95 ERA.
An Unpopular Trade Brings Luke Weaver to the Desert
On December 5, 2018, the St Louis Cardinals traded Weaver, along with catcher Carson Kelly and infielder Andy Young, to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Paul Goldschmidt. The trade did not sit well with the Diamondback fans since Goldschmidt was considered the “face-of-the-franchise” and is one of the most popular Diamondback players of all time.
While Weaver struggled in 2018, it was a strong 2017 season that the Diamondbacks front office saw from him. They were excited to have him and believed he could turn it around. We know it has happened in the past with several players; that is, a fresh start on a new team can do wonders for a player. The coaches already know he is a guy who brings everything to the mound, now what they and the fans want to see is consistency and a return to his 2017 form—when in 13 games for the Cardinals he was 7–2 record with a 3.88 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings.
What Kind of Pitcher is Luke Weaver
Weaver has always been regarded as a pitcher who finds the strike zone and gets many groundball outs. Although his fastball has hit 97 MPH in the past, it’s usually around 91-93 MPH on a regular basis. He delivers his fastball well and has a good sink on it. However, the pitch that has got him to the big leagues is his changeup. It is thrown with the same arm action as his fastball but at a lesser speed due to the way he holds the ball. Though the fastball and changeup are still his top two pitches, he is developing a slider and a better curveball with the help of pitching coach Mike Butcher. When Weaver gets those mastered, he will have four pitches to choose from on a regular basis.
The key for Weaver is consistency. There will always be times when the competitiveness in baseball threatens to get the best of any player. A majority of games are going to be close. It’s those close games when small things happen that lead your team to victory. Consistency in his performance will allow for, and help those small things happen. If he proves he is an MLB-quality pitcher sooner than later people won’t even think about him as being the guy they lost Goldschmidt for.
Having Your Catcher as Your Roommate
Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver have been roommates and friends since both arrived in the rookie leagues. They played together all the way up the Minor League system. Having that relationship continually brings assurance to a pitcher. Just knowing he can discuss things with his roommate/catcher, someone who understands and can help break down a performance after the game has ended, helps mentally. It can help ease the pressure of a loss from the next start. That has to work well through the season for both players.
What’s your take? What do you think of Luke Weaver so far? Can he turn into an ACE?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter @Basebaldaz and/or @LastWordOnMLB.
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