The St. Louis Cardinals showed fans in the 2017 they have a glut of youth ready and raring to go at the starting pitching position.
The St. Louis Cardinals seem to be a bit blessed when it comes to youth making its way through the system of late. In 2017, fans got a glimpse of what some of the future might look like. None, though, seemed to shine brighter than starting pitcher Luke Weaver. In this edition of Looking Forward we will take a look at Luke Weaver and what he could mean to the Cardinals’ rotation in 2018.
2017 looked like a bit of a breakout year for Luke Weaver. After spending a bit of time in the majors in 2016, Weaver looked a bit overmatched. Obviously, this had a lot to do with his youth and lack of experience at the major league level. However, 2017, though, was a completely different story. Weaver started out the year in AAA Memphis, where he was utterly dominant and showed he deserved that chance with the major league club.
Not only did Weaver succeed once he got his opportunity, he thrived. Ending the year with a 10.7 K/9 and a 3.88 ERA in 60 1/3 innings pitched. This is solid for a guy still considered a rookie. What is more impressive is that he allowed fourteen of his earned runs in his final 7 and 2/3 innings. This sky rocketed his ERA. From an eye test, it is easy to correlate his struggle in his final two appearances to him hitting a career high in innings.
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The expectation for Weaver going into the 2018 season is to be a full-time starter in the majors. The Cardinals moved Mike Leake, essentially to make room for Weaver in the rotation.
They also don’t seem to be destined to resign Lance Lynn, now that his contract is up. This leaves Weaver as not only a necessary addition to the full-time rotation, but a must.
Expect Weaver to take another step forward in 2018.
Building up his arm strength for the long haul will be key. Expected Weaver to throw 175 innings next season may be asking a lot, but it also might be necessary.
In 2016, Weaver threw 117.1 innings. He followed that up with 138 innings this past season. 175 innings is definitely attainable, but not without some real pressure being put on Weaver.
The St. Louis Cardinals have question marks all over the field. Thanks to Luke Weaver though, they have one less question mark they have to worry about. As long as Weaver can continue to move forward with his progression, the Cardinals have a real high upside guy to follow their already established starters. Hopefully 2018 will be a fruitful year for both the Cardinals and Luke Weaver.