Not long after he had signed his first professional contract, Luke Weaver celebrated with his father, posting a selfie of the two of them from one of the suites at Busch Stadium.
“Just in this moment, thinking about it–it’s pretty crazy,” said Weaver on the latest edition St. Louis Baseball Weekly. “When you’re there, it’s just so realistic. Back when I was drafted and setting those sights–they’re possible, they’re realistic but beyond those moments you have far to go in the organization and kind of have to build yourself up there and get to the point where they feel you’re ready. I’m just blessed being able to get through the system and show them that I’m capable of being here and just getting that opportunity and trying to take advantage of it.”
Thus far in his first four starts, Weaver has done just that–showing improvement in each of his outings and compiling 26 strikeouts in 21.0 innings pitched.
“You look back at a start and you try to look at the positives and negatives, that’s something I can say–that each start, there’s been building in some type of area,” said Weaver. “There’s always room for improvement but at this level, especially with it being new to me, just taking those strides in a positive way is the main goal but the biggest goal obviously, is to get the win for the ball club. I think just trying to get deep into those games and really give us a chance to win is the way it needs to be but it doesn’t mean that I don’t look back and try to take the positives out of what’s happened.”
After four and five inning appearances in his first two starts, Weaver has since completed six innings in his last two outings.
“The game can definitely speed up on you, it’s happened to me in a few spots during my starts,” acknowledged Weaver, who has been able to keep things from snowballing out of control. “Kind of think straight and be able to attack the game plan instead of just throwing pitches and everything’s a blur. Just that comfortability and settling in each start has become better and better for me.”
Like the rest of the Cardinals pitching staff, Weaver puts his faith in the game being called by Yadier Molina. But the rookie has provided Molina a variety of pitches to work with as the slider and curveball Weaver was working on in Spring Training have both become effective selections.
“Those have come along way, those have been huge pitches for me,” shared Weaver. “The slider turned more into a cutter, but it’s a variation that I’ll try to mix in there just depending on the given moment and manipulating that. That’s been a huge pitch along with the curveball. I think having that four-pitch mix off of the fastball/change has really elevated my efficiency and I’m able to get some more strikeouts. The previous year, in 2015, the strikeouts were a little more down.”
Pitching for Palm Beach (A+) in 2015, Weaver struck out 88 batters in 105.1 innings. This year at Springfield (AA) and Memphis (AAA) he struck out a combined total of 92 batters in 83 innings.
“I think there’s been a little elevation in strikeouts this year because of adding those two extra pitches,” continued Weaver. “Really honing in on those and getting that practice with those.”
Weaver’s next scheduled start is Tuesday, September 6th at Pittsburgh.
photo credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports, Luke Weaver-Twitter, Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports