Analyzing Weaver’s disappointing May

With a rough May behind him, Jered Weaver pitched a gem against the Yankees Friday night. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Jered Weaver’s spectacular 6-0 start to the season had Angels fans buzzing about a possible Cy Young-caliber season for the young ace.

Over the next 30 days, that discussion cooled off in a hurry. Weaver went winless in May, going 0-4 with two no-decisions.

Prior to catching the flu in late April, Weaver was otherworldly. In his six wins, he sported a 0.99 ERA and 37 strikeouts. He walked only five batters along the way.

Throughout May, though, Weaver’s numbers faltered. His ERA over those six starts was 3.38, more than triple his figure at the end of April. He struck out 28 and walked 10.

The biggest difference in Weaver’s game between those two stretches of time is his strikeout-to-walk ratio. The strikeout has proven to be Weaver’s bread and butter, and it has clearly gotten more difficult for Weaver to get batters out at the plate. His WHIP throughout May was 1.18, compared to only 0.79 through his first six starts.

A possible explanation for Weaver’s statistical decline is the sheer number of pitches he has thrown this season. Weaver averaged 114 pitches per game prior to Friday’s start against the Yankees. Interestingly enough, this figure remains the same for both before and after his bout with the flu. He has yet to throw less than 100 pitches in a game in 2011. As a result, four of Weaver’s starts in May did not last beyond the sixth inning.

A better explanation for Weaver’s May troubles, though, would probably be plain bad luck. Weaver indeed struggled, but he kept his team in all six May games, never allowing more than four runs. The Los Angeles offense was awful enough to lose plenty of games on its own. Weaver’s final start of the month, in fact, was a nine-inning, two-hit masterpiece spoiled only by a putrid offensive effort. It was the second time the Angels were shut out in Weaver’s last three starts of the month. The most offense that the Angels could produce over six games was five runs in a losing effort to Boston.

The Angels did rally to win against Oakland on May 23, but Weaver had already left the game. Even after his disappointing May, Weaver holds a 2.7 WAR, leaving him tied with teammate Dan Haren for second-best in the majors. While his play has certainly declined to a minor extent, Weaver still places among the best pitchers in baseball. So don’t cool off on that Cy talk yet.

Here’s hoping Weaver’s gutsy, three-hit performance against New York on Friday is a sign that May is in the rearview mirror for good.

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