St. Louis Cardinals: On keeping or dealing Luke Weaver

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 8: Luke Weaver
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 8: Luke Weaver /
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ST. LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 25: Luke Weaver
ST. LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 25: Luke Weaver /

Larry and Dan debate the value of St. Louis Cardinals young arm, Luke Weaver.

Dan (continued): The team sold high on that pitcher, and at the right time to add a slugging young outfielder.  That pitcher is Shelby Miller.  That narrative rings familiar this offseason.  Perhaps the St. Louis Cardinals should do the same with Luke Weaver himself?

But, sticking to Larry’s question, let us first review Weaver’s performance and scouting grades to date.  As referenced by Larry above, Weaver only has two cups of coffee on his major league resume:  eight games started in 2016 and 10 games started this past season.

Weaver struggled mightily in 2016, to the tune of a 5.70 ERA while allowing seven home runs and 23 earned runs in 36 innings pitched.  He improved, markedly, in 2017.  In ten games started for the St. Louis Cardinals, Weaver posted a 3.88 ERA – but that number was largely buoyed by two horrific starts late in the season.

The young righty allowed the same seven home runs and 26 earned runs in almost twice the innings pitched.  Being a year removed from a wrist injury suffered shagging balls in batting practice clearly assisted in Luke Weaver’s major league makeover.

To his credit, there is an additional peripheral stat that remained constant in the major leagues, and that is Weaver’s average of 11 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.  That is a phenomenal number.  Not only is that number phenomenal, but that number represents an increase over Weaver’s average strikeouts per nine innings pitched in the minor leagues:  8.8.

Speaking of the minors, all Weaver has done in the minors is perform at a high level.  In 15 starts with AAA Memphis, Weaver posted a 2.55 ERA over 77 innings pitched.  Additionally, Weaver only allowed three home runs in those 77 innings.

For background information, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Luke Weaver in the first round of the 2014 draft with the 27th overall pick.  He was a proven college starter for Florida State University, and scouts praise his strong control, his deadly change-up, and a promising slider.  Weaver’s fastball velocity increased as a Cardinal and he sat, consistently, in the 94-97 mph range, at times touching 98.

Weaver is very early in his growth curve, and his early success in St. Louis is incredibly promising.  Weaver reminds me, however, of promising young pitcher Shelby Miller.  They have similar offerings – both throwing a fastball, a slider, and an off-speed pitch (curveball and changeup), and both throw in the mid-90s.

Miller flashed a similar ability to strike batters out, but as he progressed in his major league career he decided (a la Carlos Martinez) to pitch to contact more frequently, to lengthen his outings.

Weaver has not yet shown the ability to do that.  You can count on Weaver for five or six innings, but that’s all right now.  Shelby Miller never won the trust of the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office, I’m afraid, and he was shipped to Atlanta for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden.

Before we discuss the best value of Luke Weaver, Larry, do you agree that Miller and Weaver are similar?  Do you think Weaver ever has a year as good as Miller’s best year with the St. Louis Cardinals (2013) or with the Atlanta Braves (2015)?