When right-hander Jered Weaver returns from the disabled list for the first time in 40 games on Sunday, Manager Mike Scioscia said he expects to see, “hopefully, Jered a little more reminiscent of the way he pitched toward the end of last year.”
Last season, Weaver went 18-9 with a 3.58 earned-run average. This season has not been as successful. Before his 40-game disabled list stint because of inflammation in his left hip, Weaver was 4-8 with a 4.75 ERA.
Whether Scioscia's forecast is correct probably will depend on how Weaver protects his fastball.
Past center field, a few cars on the freeway zip by faster than Weaver's fastball has this season. Before the injury, his average fastball speed was 85 mph, according to fangraphs.com's pitch f/x data. His average two-seam fastball was 83.5.
That shouldn't be a problem for Weaver, who thrives with deception, smarts and a command. But before his disabled-list stint, spotty command and less-than-sharp secondary pitches left Weaver's fastball vulnerable.
“If that command's not there, he felt he was out there naked,” Scioscia said.
Weaver mostly used his rehabilitation to regain control over his sensitive delivery. As Scioscia explained, that would not only give his off-speed pitches more bite and accuracy, but also give him more power.
“Without hammering the sensitivity of velocity, because it's not the most important thing a pitcher has — especially with Weav, it's not the most important thing — but any increase in velocity will definitely bring his secondary pitches to life,” Scioscia said.
Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado swung so hard he nearly lost his balance. Right-hander Garrett Richards had hung a slider. Machado crushed it over the left-field wall.
Last year, Richards gave up six home runs. This season, he has given up six home runs over his last six starts.
Scioscia said the home runs have resulted from a few mistake pitches, not from any identifiable mechanical flaw.
“Hanging sliders, hanging sliders,” Richards said, “That's it.”
Joyce still hurt
Injured left fielder Matt Joyce, who has been on the disabled list since July 27 because of a concussion, has been cleared of concussion-related symptoms.