The St. Louis Cardinals had a great young arm in Luke Weaver and still do but his time between pitches is hurting him.
Luke Weaver started the game on Sunday for the St. Louis Cardinals facing off against the Milwaukee Brewers. He has been reliable since 2015 and was even impressive during his debut and rise to a regular starter position.
Since then, since the second half of 2017, Weaver has run into some problems. Not catastrophic, but the problems may have more to do with his command from the mound. As he was coming up, he seemed dominant on the mound but as more and more batters recognized his stuff, his command seems slipping.
One way to assess the level of command and comfort- to me- is pitcher pace or the time between pitches. Yes, some pitchers operate more slowly than others, but comparing year-to-year for an individual pitcher illustrates to me whether they are more comfortable with their material or not.
Looking at Weaver, according to Fangraphs, he first burst on the scene in 2016 and his pace was 21.5. This grew to 21.7 in 2017 but the 0.2 growth is negligible. While not astronomical, Weaver has seen additional time between his pitches in 2018 that has inflated his pace to 23.3.
If we make these number equitable, 1.3 growth could equate to 1.3 additional seconds between pitches. While that might not be that big of a deal, these figures are aggregate so we must acknowledge that a statistical growth of 1.3 in one year illustrates that there were moments/games when his time between pitches increased far in excess of 1.3 seconds.
How does Weaver stack up against the rest of the NL? The fastest starting pitcher in time between pitches is the Brewers Brent Suter. His between pitches time is 18.1. That puts him spending 5.2 “seconds” less between pitches than Weaver.
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The St. Louis Cardinals faced Suter during this past 4-game split with the Brewers. In fact, the Cardinals lost this game facing Suter and his speed of delivery (not necessarily speed of pitch) kept the Cardinal batters a little off the entire game illustrating the damage a quick delivery can have on batters.
The slowest starting pitcher in time between pitches in the NL is Daniel Hudson of the Dodgers. His between pitches time is 27.5. That puts him spending 4.2 additional “seconds” between pitches compared to Weaver.
In other words, Weaver finds himself almost dead center of time between pitches with a little leaning toward the slower side of the mean.
While Fangraphs accurately points out, pace is not something that correlates with success. I do agree with them but noting the rhythm disruption that pace can have on batters, I feel that a pitcher like Weaver should experiment with faster delivery times.
The St. Louis Cardinals, thanks to the injuries to her starting arms, need Luke Weaver to be the surprising Weaver of late-2016-to-early-2017. This is what will return him to dominance and- to me at least- his pace is one area that he can modify and potentially see immediate results.
Do you think Weaver should speed up or slow down? Do you think it matters at all? Thanks for reading and go St. Louis Cardinals!