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St. Louis Cardinals: Luke Weaver’s Time Is Now

What will happen to Luke Weaver in 2017?

When talking about a struggling major leaguer or sometimes a recent call-up we often hear John Mozeliak say something along the lines of “He has nothing left to prove in Memphis”. Well, Luke Weaver has nothing left to prove in Memphis. After a spinning six shutout innings on Wednesday, Weaver now has 1.93 ERA in 56 Triple A innings this season. It’s to the point where the minor leagues are clearly not enough of a challenge for Luke.

Weaver spent some time with the major league club last season and showed some promise, but struggled overall. He looked competent for most of his time on the mound but in the end had a 5.70 ERA over 36.1 innings pitched. Those numbers won’t cut it by any means. However, 11 of the earned runs he allowed came in his final two appearances of the season. He fell apart in a start in Colorado and in a relief appearance against Cincinnati. I don’t like cherrypicking peoples stats, but I do like to give pitchers a pass in Colorado. Even elite pitchers have meltdowns there. After essentially skipping Memphis last season he now has more minor league experience under his belt. He has done nothing but show that he’s ready for another shot with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Weaver could be useful out of the ‘pen

While the Cardinals recently won 2 out of 3 games against a very good Arizona Diamondbacks team, they were one reliable reliever away from a sweep. If Weaver were to slot into the bullpen he would likely fall into a role similar to what Tyler Lyons is filling right now. He could be the guy to go multiple innings if it’s necessary, or he could fill some 6th or 7th inning spots whenever the typical late inning guys are taxed. This would free up Lyons to work his way into some higher leverage roles. 

It also wouldn’t shock me to see Weaver work himself into a late inning role by season’s end. Similar to the way that Matt Bowman has done so himself. Weaver is a small guy but he throws surprisingly hard. It wouldn’t surprise me if he were to excel out of the bullpen.

There could be a place for him in the rotation

If we want to go with something a little more bold, I truly believe that Weaver could replace Michael Wacha in the starting rotation. Over his last five starts Wacha is only averaging 4.82 innings pitched and has a 5.55 ERA. While he looked a little better his last time out against the Reds, we shouldn’t be banking on any sustained improvement. That’s hardly better than what Weaver did in the majors last season.

Zach Gifford of The Intrepid STL, who is constantly putting out great work, tweeted out a chart last night showing exactly why Wacha is the perfect candidate to move to the bullpen. If you’re a fan of advanced statistics you need to be following Zach. His work is must-read.

As you can see, Wacha’s velocity is consistently falling the deeper he gets into the game and the results suffer because of it. Whether this is caused by his chronic shoulder injury or just regular fatigue, I don’t know. The numbers here, however, are undeniable.

Considering the success Wacha is having against teams his first time through the lineup, I do think it’s fair to believe that he could be very effective out of the bullpen. He obviously can’t be expected to make the impact that Wade Davis or Zach Britton did moving from the rotation to the bullpen. However, I do think he would add to the late inning trio of Brett Cecil, Trevor Rosenthal, and Seung-Hwan Oh. That is something that this team desperately needs and it wouldn’t come at the expense of trading any prospects.

What’s the best plan?

I personally would prefer to see Wacha go to the bullpen. I believe it’s the most impactful move for the bullpen and I think that Weaver can do a fine job in the rotation. But it doesn’t matter which way you look at it, calling up Luke Weaver is a way to add a quality arm to the team while adding depth to the bullpen. Whether he pitches out of the pen himself, or takes Wacha’s place in the rotation, it’s an upgrade either way. It’s a move that this team needs immediately if they hope to have a chance at turning this season around.

Thanks for reading!

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