St. Louis Cardinals fans, allow me to reintroduce you to Luke Weaver, the talented young righthanded pitcher who enjoyed a few pots of coffee with the team last year, even though he wasn't ready.
The latest call-up from the Cardinals is exactly what this team needs at the moment. Imagine a car pulled over to the side of the road on a hot summer day, in need of an oil change. The car can still run, but it needs a boost under the hood. The rotation-while strong over the past week overall-is being held together by duct tape-and the bullpen is a complete mess.
When the Birds rotate three pitchers into the closer spot inside a single week, trouble is brewing. For a team that is carrying the extra arm down in the pen, pitching shouldn't be a concern, but it has been over the course of the past couple of weeks. A brutal breakdown in Arizona deprived the Cards of a key sweep, and there have been more than a few blown leads coming from the pen.
Weaver should be able to help both units, and will do so in a number of ways due to his unique skill set. Weaver has dazzled at Memphis this year, going 7-1 with a 1.93 ERA to go with a nearly 6:1 strikeout to walk ratio. He is holding opposing hitters to a .202 average and carries a WHIP of 0.96, which qualifies for pure filth. But don't think he must start right away, because I foresee Weaver helping the Cards in a number of ways. Let's look them over.
*Long arm in the bullpen from the right side. Right now, Tyler Lyons is the 2-3 inning guy, especially due to Matt Bowman helping out in the closer duties. Lyons is good to a fault, but not as nearly as talented as Weaver, and could use some aide. If the Cards can use Weaver in an extended role at least every fifth day, he won't lose much endurance from that right arm. For example, Weaver can back up a laboring Michael Wacha or Lance Lynn.
*If the Cards wanted to give the tree a firm shake, Weaver could be a closer for this team. Name the one troublesome spot over the past two weeks, and it's closing games. Late inning action. Making Weaver the closer wouldn't shut down his ability to help in other areas, but if he were a lethal fit there, it would free up Trevor Rosenthal and Seung Hwan Oh for a trade. Imagine Weaver throwing lightning bolts for ONE inning....let me get you some ice.
*Spot starting. I'd love for Weaver to take Wacha's spot in the rotation, but the 2013 playoff sensation has hurled a pair of great games in a row, so it'd be odd to pull him out of the rotation now. Weaver is the new fallback guy who replace either Wacha or Lynn shall an injury or trade occur.
Or, perhaps Weaver is auditioning for a trade himself this week. Rusty Groppel, my Cardinals scribe colleague over at Redbird Daily, thinks the Florida State boy could be a trade piece with the visiting Miami Marlins.
For the time being, he will be seeing time in the pen, according to Cardinals reporter for MLB.com, Jenifer Langosch:
Luke Weaver says he's been told that he'll be pitching out of the bullpen, at least initially. #STLCards— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) July 3, 2017
Look at this way, Cards fans: Weaver is more useful than Mike Mayers, so you have to like the move. Being the team's top healthy pitching prospect, he won't linger in the bullpen without usage. Weaver wasn't brought here to gather bullpen equipment, trust me. He's earned the call-up, and will make a dent. He's the remedy the Cards needed two weeks ago, but better late than never I guess.
While he was roughed up for the most part in 36.1 innings with the Cardinals in 2016, Weaver did post a wicked 45-12 strikeout to walk stat line. That right there garners a fair measure of intrigue as his second stint begins.
Luke Weaver can't play left field or solve the Cards defensive troubles, but he can pitch. His return should generate excitement and not head-scratching.