Over the last couple of days, Luke Weaver has begun the process of decompressing from the St. Louis Cardinals season. He admits to watching some playoff baseball, but also just sinking into his couch and allowing the various thoughts of 2018 to go through his head.
“It was a long, bumpy road,” said Weaver, who spoke on the phone from his home in Tallahassee, Florida. “Highs and lows for sure, I definitely think more lows than highs. You’ve got to pick apart the positives and build on those and really sink your teeth into that. Just be proud of the fact that you did have some of those and a lot of the negatives, not treat them as negatives but treat those as learning experiences and ways to find yourself to get better and ways to eliminate those. I think really eliminating the big mistakes that happened during games–like giving up six or seven runs. Just eliminating those games altogether and as you try to assess it and minimize the damage.”
Weaver made 25 starts for St. Louis and finished with a 7-11 record and pitching out of the bullpen.
Still confident in his changeup and the stuff that got him to the big leagues, Weaver is looking to improve his execution and expand his arsenal.
“Anytime a starter doesn’t have four pitches and has three, you kind of open a door to the hitters,” he said. “Now you’ve got two pitches working and they can cancel one out. So this off-season is going to be the biggest off-season for me.”
Last off-season, the focus was on gaining weight and adding muscle to his wiry frame. The efforts provided more durability and increased his velocity so Weaver will return to his routine of protein shakes and workouts over the next few months. But as he noted above, there is a different main focus.
“This off-season is going to be about finding that fourth pitch and having that arsenal,” Weaver said. “Knowing the foundation of mechanics and knowing if it gets off track, I know exactly what those cues are. I think that was something tough this year–that I felt like it wasn’t far off. It was right there, but there was something I just couldn’t figure out and it was hard for people to help me figure it out and it became a battle.”
And he is ready to once again battle with a familiar foe for his fourth pitch.
“The curve ball is there, it could be shaped up a little better, more consistent but I think that slider/cutter–whatever it wants to be is the main pitch,” Weaver said. “That’s one I’ve said in the past, I’ve worked hard on but everybody’s got a kryptonite as far as a pitch and that seems to be the tough one to me. I’ve thrown it well during the season, but then there’s times where it’s just nonexistent. I think this off-season is the key to combining the two where I can be consistent with it and feel confident.”
Besides training, Weaver is also planning another trip to Haiti or the Dominican Republic to check on the projects he’s worked with Adam Wainwright and Big League Impact on in those countries.
“One huge positive I take away personally from this season is being able to get some strikeouts,” Weaver said. “Obviously, you want as a many as possible, but with every strikeout came a donation. That donation turned into money that’s going to impact some of the poor people in the world and help change their lives. Give them water, shelter, and agriculture jobs to sustain food for a while. When I look back at the season, I see a huge positive in being able to impact people’s lives. Even though the results aren’t positive for me, the results are positive for other people and I think that’s a very cool thing to see.”
photo credit: Joe Puetz, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports