I have been following baseball, in general, and the St. Louis Cardinals, in particular, since the mid-1950’s. I am a fan of the game of baseball. Like every other fan, I have likes, dislikes, favorite players, and do my fair share of questioning decisions made in relation to plays, players, and management decisions. I tend to hold my opinions fairly close to my vest. I believe my writing should reflect factual reporting; rather than opinion. Today, I am choosing to incorporate both into this piece.
I am seriously questioning the decision to start Luke Weaver, in his MLB debut, this Saturday in a 1:20pm (CDT) contest against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The twenty-two year old right-handed Weaver was the Cardinals first-round draft pick in 2014. Admittedly, Weaver has been extremely effective in the Redbirds minor league system this season. Arguably, he has been extremely fast-tracked, and in my opinion possibly rushed, to make his Saturday debut against the NL Central Division leading Cubs.
Weaver, who began the season on the MiLB Disabled List due to experiencing a broken wrist in Spring Training, made his 2016 season debut on June 4th. In twelve starts at Double-A Springfield, Weaver (6-3) posted a 1.40 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP, and a .214 opponent batting average.
In his only start at Triple-A Memphis, August 8th, Weaver threw six solid innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits, and two walks, as he recorded the win.
His work in Double-A and Triple-A has been quite impressive! I am wondering that being limited to just thirteen appearances at the higher MiLB levels shall sustain him in a high pressure MLB game against one of the better teams, this season, in MLB?
Weaver, like Alex Reyes, who made his MLB debut in relief this week are considered among the top pitching prospects in MLB, this season. Other top MLB pitching prospects, Lucas Giolito of the Washington Nationals, Tyler Glasnow of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Julio Urias of the Los Angeles Dodgers, individually spent more time honing their craft at the Double-A and Triple-A levels than the opportunities afforded to Weaver since June of this season.
Weaver shall be the seventh Cardinal starter employed this season. The Redbird starting pitching, with few exceptions, has been successful so far in 2016. It was not until July 24th, the Birds needed to step outside of the starting pitching corps. Mike Mayers was pressed into duty as the sixth Cardinal hurler. Mayers had a difficult initial MLB outing.
This past Tuesday, when the Cardinals placed Michael Wacha on the DL, excitement grew within Cardinal Nation with the news that top pitching prospect Alex Reyes was being added to the Twenty Five Man Roster.
Reyes has nearly double the game experience in Double-A and Triple-A than Weaver. Additionally, Reyes in his MLB debut needed eleven pitches to secure three consecutive outs. The first batter Reyes’ faced was greeted with a 96 mph pitch (a ball), followed with a 98 mph strike, then a nasty 79 mph breaking ball for a strike, and a 101 mph put-a-way fastball for a strike.
I question if Weaver’s apparent rush to the big leagues are in his, and the Cardinals, best interest. Granted both Weaver and Reyes provide rather small MiLB sample sizes. All throughout his career, from Rookie Ball to Triple-A, Reyes has been a starter. With all due respect to the Cardinals’ organization and to Luke Weaver, I would rather Alex Reyes get the start on Saturday.
Thanks for reading!
Jim Tsapelas is a featured writer with Baseball Thirty.