Yankees have found a bullpen gem on a one-year prove-it deal

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees, luke weaver
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees boast one of the best bullpens in baseball, not because of overspending on elite pitchers but thanks to pitching coach Matt Blake’s talent for finding value where others don’t.

Two notable examples are Clay Holmes and Ian Hamilton, both of whom have become crucial assets. Holmes has been particularly dominant this season, maintaining a flawless 0.00 ERA over 16.1 innings with 11 saves. Another recent standout is Luke Weaver, a 30-year-old right-hander signed to a one-year, $2 million deal with a club option for 2025.

Yankees Bullpen Excellence: Finding Hidden Value

Weaver, who has moved between teams over the past few seasons, began his career with the St. Louis Cardinals at 22. He spent three years in St. Louis before moving to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, and Seattle Mariners before joining the Yankees.

In 2023, he pitched 13.1 innings for the Yankees, posting a 3.38 ERA and 10.80 strikeouts per nine innings. His performance improved significantly after the Yankees provided him with a clear plan.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees
Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Weaver: From Journeyman to Asset

In 2024, Weaver has already thrown 23.1 innings, recording a 2.70 ERA, 8.87 strikeouts per nine innings, a 72.4% left-on-base rate, and a 36.7% ground-ball rate. He is a low-walk, low-homer pitcher with the stamina to step in as a starter when needed. His versatility and ability to pitch longer innings make him invaluable to the Yankees.

Weaver uses a four-seam fastball, change-up, and cutter. His four-seamer holds opposing batters to a .172 average with a 20% whiff rate, while his cutter has a .148 average against. His change-up is his primary strikeout pitch, used 26.3% of the time but producing 11 strikeouts over 25 at-bats with a .120 average. Though not known for blistering velocity, Weaver’s fastball averages around 95 mph.

His impressive movement, particularly on the cutter, produces 18% more vertical and 32% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher. Surprisingly, he only recently introduced this pitch at a higher rate last season, and it may now be his best offering.

Weaver exemplifies the Yankees’ skill in maximizing potential from overlooked players. With their ability to identify and nurture talent, they continue to build a bullpen that excels at finding hidden gems.

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