Continuing our countdown from worst-to-first, we find our fiery, soft-tossing righty Jered Weaver. Stat heads have been predicting his demise for years and it seems his diminishing velocity finally caught up to him last season. Will his newly found embrace of stretching help him stave off father time for another year? Or is Jered a slice of white bread stuck in a broken toaster? Remember, leave your predicted WAR total in the subject line of the comment section.
2016 Composite Projection
Jered saw career lows in 2015 in fastball velocity (84.9 MPH), strikeouts (90), HR/9 (1.4), ERA (4.64) and posted a losing record for the first time in his career (7-12). In addition to his diminishing velocity, Weaver also saw a reduction in swinging-strikes on the rest of his arsenal, perhaps due to a lack of contrast from his BP fastball. To make matters worse, hitters had a .273 BAbip against Jered, right in line with his career norms. There were zero indicators last season that his poor showing was anything but simply him not having it anymore.
Barring injury, Weaver very likely will continue to earn the trust of manager Mike Scioscia and his taste for veterans well past their expiration date, so be prepared for him to be slotted into the starting rotation. To search for any nuggets of hope, we can take solace that he was still a beast at home, going 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA across 67.2 innings. The sample size is hardly definitive, though he did back it up with a 4.42 SO/W ratio, continuing to exploit the rock pile behind his out-stretched release point. He also finished the year strong with a 3.51 ERA in September/October and a 6.2 SO/9, his best month of the year in that regard.
Undoubtably, we are all at peace that the Jered Weaver we saw confound so many AL hitters over the years is long gone. He was a guy who skated the razors edge with below-average stuff and excellent command whose margin for error got too small to contain. Still, as a guy who never relied on velocity in the first place, perhaps he can use a little veteran moxie to grind through one more season as a back-end of the rotation innings-muncher. What does the wisdom of the crowd think?