The New York Yankees have a knack for identifying unsung bullpen talents, leveraging their skills to bring value to the mound. While securing starting pitchers who can instantly make an impact has been a challenge, Luke Weaver’s recent performance is a promising exception.
Luke Weaver, 30, a former first-round draft pick, joined the Yankees’ ranks after being claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. His journey this year saw him taking the field 21 times with Cincinnati, recording a 6.87 ERA, and later posting a 6.08 ERA in his five games with Seattle.
Despite these figures, Weaver has flourished since his transition to the Yankees. In 9.1 innings, he boasts a commendable 2.89 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 9.64 strikeouts per nine, an 81.4% left-on-base rate, and a 34.6% ground ball rate.
Tweaking Weaver’s Pitching Arsenal
The Yankees may have landed a diamond in the rough — Weaver has found a home with a team primed to refine his game. A noticeable adjustment in his pitch usage was evident on Friday night, with his fastball usage spiking to 53.8%, marking its second-highest deployment this season.
Conversely, Weaver employed his slider at its lowest this season, a mere 1.3%, and there was a discernible dip in his cutter’s usage. This shift could be in response to the match’s dynamics, but it’s plausible that pitching coach Matt Blake is steering him towards favoring his fastball over his slider. Delving into the numbers, Weaver’s slider has been susceptible to a .377 batting average this season. In contrast, his fastball has clocked a .310 batting average – not impeccable, but decidedly improved. Supported by a decent fastball velocity averaging 94 mph, its subtle vertical movement can bamboozle batters. Pairing it with a change-up has often yielded fruitful outcomes.
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The Yankees Saw Value From Luke Weaver on Friday
Facing the Arizona Diamondbacks, Weaver dispatched 78 pitches, predominantly using his fastball, cutter, and change-up. Even though his precision can occasionally waver, he remarkably limited hard hits in the fair zone. Most were grounded, curbing the likelihood of adversaries landing a home run.
The tenure of Weaver’s association with the Bombers might be brief, but the evident recalibration of his pitch sequence might just cement his spot as a valuable asset, either as supplementary support or a bullpen mainstay in the upcoming season, especially after a stellar outing on Friday, where he delivered 5.1 scoreless innings, yielding a mere four hits and striking out three.