St. Louis Cardinals: Luke Weaver Will Start First Spring Training Game
St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny announced Wednesday that Luke Weaver, the organization’s top (healthy) pitching prospect, will get the nod on Saturday against the Miami Marlins.
Jupiter, Florida has been home to the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals for just over a week now, as pitchers, catchers, and position players have been hard at work in preparation for the regular season. This Saturday, the slate of Spring Training games gets underway for both teams, as the Marlins will host the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.
Mike Matheny announced Wednesday that righty Luke Weaver will start the game for the Cardinals. He will be followed by John Gant, a piece in the Jaime Garcia to the Atlanta Braves trade, top lefty prospect Austin Gomber, and closer Seung-Hwan Oh.
Weaver was the team’s first round draft pick in 2014. He got his first taste of big-league action late last season, making eight starts and one bullpen appearance. The 23-year old went 1-4 with a 5.70 ERA, and struck out forty-five batters in 36 1/3 innings of work.
He has fared much better in his minor-league career, going 15-9 with a 1.78 ERA. Between AA Springfield and AAA Memphis last season, he made thirteen starts, recorded a 1.30 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .206 average.
Weaver strayed from his approach of going right after hitters in his tour with St. Louis, something he acknowledged at the end of the season. In eighty-three minor-league innings last year, he surrendered only twelve walks and four home runs. In his 36 1/3 major league innings, he allowed the same amount of walks and gave up seven long balls.
He enters the first Grapefruit League game with an outside shot at the fifth spot in the starting rotation and the seventh spot in the bullpen.
Austin Gomber is the organization’s top left-handed pitching prospect. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. In 2016, he spent time with A+ Palm Beach and AA Springfield. In twenty-one starts, he compiled a 2.69 ERA and held hitters to a .220 batting average. He stands 6’5″ tall and weighs in at 235 lbs. Gomber is a name to watch this spring and as the regular season gets underway.
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Seung-Hwan Oh will get an appearance in the first Grapefruit League game because after he pitches, he’ll be headed home to South Korea to meet with his national team for the World Baseball Classic. Oh will be the Cardinals’ closer this year.
John Gant came to St. Louis last November along with righty Chris Ellis and infielder Luke Dykstra in the trade that sent Jaime Garcia to Atlanta. Of the three players the Cardinals received, only Gant has big-league experience.
He recorded a 4.86 ERA in his debut season last year, making twenty appearances (seven starts). He possesses an unconventional delivery where he lifts his left leg, sets it down, then lifts it again to begin his stride.
Weaver will likely get two innings of work, or however long it takes him to throw 20-30 pitches. The same will probably apply for Gomber and Gant. Expect Oh to pitch one inning.
Matheny also announced that righty Mike Mayers, who debuted last year and projects to begin the year in AAA Memphis, will start Sunday against the Marlins.
On Monday, the St. Louis Cardinals have split squad games at home against the Washington Nationals and on the road against the Boston Red Sox. Lance Lynn and Michael Wacha will start those games, respectively.
Next: Four Possible Free-Agent Replacements For Reyes
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Spring Training games are right around the corner. Want to know more about when these games are televised? Jump over and read Michael’s recent piece telling us about the broadcasts.