A Quick Observation of Weaver
After his performance today, I'm starting to really remember why I liked the thought of adding Jeff Weaver into the rotation during the offseason. While I see him as having some issues with his emotions, tonight, and last week vs. the Pirates both, I saw a different player than what I saw at the beginning of the year.
For some players, there's a fine edge between being able to control their emotions in a good way -- to channel that anger to dominate -- and to be demonized by them so that they collapse under the weight of their emotions. In the first part of Jeff's Mariners career, he was clearly frustrated and the cycle of frustration got so big that he looked helpless and lost any sense of how to pitch. Over the last couple of games, however, he seemed to keep things under wraps and channel that emotion into confidence.
It's possible that the data shows otherwise, but it appeared that Jeff didn't let the jams get to him, and he was able to put a tourniquet on the bleeding when he needed to. That mental edge and the ability to get out of jams, whether major or minor, seemed to suggest that Jeff's turning things around.
No, he won't be a great pitcher. It's likely that the balls that were getting pounded through holes to start the year aren't finding those holes right now. Jeff's just such an emotional guy, that when he's focused and controlling those emotions, he's more likely to pitch effectively. He's always been the type that needs confidence to pitch, and if you mess with it, he totally implodes. That's why he was kicked out of New York. Seattle's nurturing environment, both in the organization and in the fanbase, really is a good fit for Jeff. If he can get his ERA+ up from the low 40s to closer to 100, that's the same as adding another pitcher in there. I wouldn't bet on his recent performance being sustainable, but you can always hope.
With no other options in our farm system (although Popeye Campillo would be fun to watch, perhaps) to slip into the rotation, it's very important that Weaver pick up the slack and clean up the mess he started with. Adding MORE pitching would be nice, but it's going to be expensive. And everybody's going to be trying to do it as well.
I'll await Jeff's and Dave's commentary, if either of them take the time to say anything about his performance today. But I do believe he was being successful throwing whatever offspeed pitch seemed to work for him -- the change, the slider, whatever it was he had success with -- kept Boston off balance and limited the damage. A few balls were smoked -- the one off the LF scoreboard, for example, but it wasn't nearly like in the games earlier in the season. I hope it's more repeatable, now that he's shown success against both a horrible club and arguably the best in the league. I honestly sorta cheer for Jeff, in the way you sorta cheer for Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Nice to see Hargrove stand in his corner today, like Mr. Hand did w/Spicoli.
Gee. I wonder if Felix is paying attention. Throwing off-speed and breaking stuff, mixing the pitch selection rather than throwing 95% fastballs will especially be important since, unlike Pittsburgh, Boston's got a lineup that can do some serious damage...