Jered Weaver was inconsistent at times yesterday against the Cincinnati Reds. He seemed to be having trouble commanding his fastball and was leaving some of his breaking balls up in the zone. Even then, Weaver was able to hold the Reds to just 2 hits and a single run in six innings of work.
One thing Weaver did have going for him was his ability to change speeds.
Weaver's slowest pitch of the day clocked in at 69 mph while his fastest was clocked at 89 for a 20 mph difference. Or for those National Geographic fans out there, that's the difference between a lion's running speed and a cheetah's.
Weaver's ability to change speed's is one of the keys to his success. And on a day where he began the game struggling with his location, it proved helpful.
One of the most extreme cases came in the 3rd inning to Jay Bruce. Weaver had already given up a run and there were runners on first and third. On his fourth pitch, Weaver threw Bruce an 89 mile an hour cutter then followed it up with a 69 mph curveball. He then came back with an 86 mph fastball, followed by 69 mph breaking ball. Weaver continued this trend of extreme speed change throughout the at-bat.
Bruce continued fouling off pitches and eventually popped up on a 77 mph changeup. Clearly, Weaver's ability to change speeds was toying with Bruce's timing and the end result was a much needed out in a critical situation.
In the off-season, there was much discussion about Weaver's declining velocity as a possible warning sign of a trouble ahead for the Angels starter. Monday's opening day game against the Reds did nothing to quiet those fears with his four-seam and two-seam fastballs averaging just 86 mph for the game. However, it did showcase how Weaver can continue to still be successful, even against a good hitting team like the Reds, despite his declining velocity. One key to that continued success will undoubtedly be his ability to change speeds as showcased yesterday.