Angels right-hander Jered Weaver was once regarded as a fantasy ace, but his velocity has slipped to dangerously low levels in the past couple of years and he’s coming off a career-high 4.64 ERA in 2015. Sure, we’re still in the early part of the exhibition schedule, but there’s nothing to suggest that a bounceback is around the corner.
Making his second start of the spring, Weaver was pounded for five runs on six hits and one walk over 2 2/3 innings Wednesday against the Dodgers. The 33-year-old surrendered home runs to Joc Pederson, Austin Barnes, and Scott Van Slyke along the way. Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times was told by scouts in attendance that Weaver averaged around 79 mph with his fastball and never topped 81 mph. That’s not a misprint. Quite a contrast to his teammate Garrett Richards, who was clocked at 100 mph on Tuesday.
Weaver said after the start that his poor performance Wednesday was more a matter of poor location than velocity. Angels manager Mike Scioscia is also downplaying concerns for now.
“A lot’s being made of his velocity,” Scioscia told Moura. “Not that you don’t need velocity or it doesn’t make some things easier when you have velocity, but I think he showed he can do this. It’s just going to be more command sensitive.”
Weaver averaged around 84 mph with his fastball last season. Among non-knuckleball pitchers, only Mark Buehrle clocked in lower. This is not where you want to be. For reference, Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard averaged around 89 mph with his changeup (yes, his changeup) as a rookie in 2015.
This is really part of a trend. Weaver averaged around 90 mph with his fastball in 2010, 89 mph in 2011, 88 mph in 2012, and 87 mph from 2013-2014. In turn, his strikeout percentage has dropped from a career-high 25.8 percent (2010) to a career-low 13.5 percent (2015) during this time span.
Weaver missed six weeks with a hip injury last season and also acknowledged some shoulder stiffness late in the year. The hope was that he would see an uptick with improved health, but he never threw a pitch faster than 83 mph his spring debut last week and Wednesday was even more discouraging. The Angels will wait things out and hope for the best, but fortunately most fantasy owners have the choice to look elsewhere.
Weaver is owed $20 million in 2016 in the final year of his five-year, $85 million extension with the Angels.
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New Bird Scuffling
The Orioles signed South Korean outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim a two-year, $7 million contract over the winter with designs on him locking down the primary left fielder gig in 2016. That might still happen, but at the very least, he’s going through a bit of an adjustment period against major league pitching.
Kim went 0-for-3 against the Phillies on Wednesday and is now hitless in 21 at-bats this spring. Known for his strong on-base skills in the Korea Baseball Organization, he has yet to draw a walk. On the bright side, Kim has only struck out three times. He’s making contact and sometimes hitting into some bad luck, like he did on Wednesday.
“I’m going to keep running him out there and see what happens. If we don’t like it at the end, we’ll make an adjustment. If we like it, there’s a chance he goes [north],” Showalter said.
Assuming the Pedro Alvarez signing becomes official, Mark Trumbo will likely be the primary right fielder for Baltimore. The alternatives to Kim in left field include the likes of Nolan Remold and Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard. You might remember that former KBO star Jung Ho Kang had his share of struggles with the Pirates last spring before emerging as a valuable piece during the regular season. The Orioles will have to hope that things eventually kick into gear in a similar fashion for Kim.
Fielder Sent For Tests
Rangers designated hitter Prince Fielder was sent back to Texas on Wednesday to determine the cause of some recent sleep issues. Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said that the veteran slugger has been feeling symptomatic “for awhile,” so the club didn’t want to take any chances.
Fielder is expected to miss three games through Friday, but he should rejoin the club on Saturday. There’s nothing to indicate that his absence will extend beyond that. It’s better to address the issue now than to have it drag on with the rigorous schedule and travel demands of the regular season.
Fielder, who turns 32 in May, returned from neck surgery last season and batted .305/.378/.463 with 23 home runs and 98 RBI over 158 games. While his production dropped off over the final three months of the season, he was selected as the Comeback Player of the Year for the American League.
Fielder’s power upside isn’t what it once was, but he’s in a great setting for offense in Texas and can hit for average and get on base. He’s still first base-eligible in fantasy leagues and makes for a fine alternative for those who miss out on the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Jose Abreu, Miguel Cabrera, and Edwin Encarnacion in the early rounds of mixed league drafts.
Quick Hits: Gerrit Cole (ribs) is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday … Justin Upton left Wednesday’s game for precautionary reasons after Anthony Gose accidentally stepped on his ankle in the outfield … Making his first start of the spring, 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta struck out four batters over two scoreless innings Wednesday against the Indians … Billy Hamilton (shoulder) hit off a tee Wednesday … Johnny Cueto was knocked around for five runs over 1 1/3 innings in his Giants’ debut Wednesday against the Rockies … Ending intrigue and speculation, Athletics manager Bob Melvin confirmed Wednesday that Sonny Gray will start Opening Day against the White Sox … Curtis Granderson (eye) went 2-for-3 with a run scored in his spring debut Wednesday against the Yankees … Marco Estrada (back) could make his first Grapefruit League start next week … Luke Gregerson (oblique) will pitch a simulated game on Saturday … In the mix for the Brewers’ closer role, Jeremy Jeffress (hamstring) will throw another bullpen session Thursday… Yasmany Tomas (knee) is not expected to return Thursday as originally hoped … Howie Kendrick (groin) was able to take batting practice Wednesday … Competing with Jonathan Singleton for the Astros’ first base job, Tyler White doubled and singled Wednesday to improve his spring average to .353 … Matt Cain threw off flat ground Wednesday for the first time since having a cyst removed from his upper right arm two weeks ago … The Cardinals don’t plan to use Stephen Piscotty at first base in 2016 … Steven Souza (intercostal) went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his Grapefruit League debut Wednesday … Michael Lorenzen has been shut down for a couple of days due to elbow soreness … Steve Pearce was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup due to right calf tightness … Pirates prospect outfielder Austin Meadows suffered an orbital fracture while playing catch on Tuesday … Skip Schumaker has retired after 11 seasons in the majors …