Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rockies should have patience with Weathers

Pitching the eighth inning of the U.S. Future Games Sunday afternoon, Casey Weathers showed why he will be pitching for the Colorado Rockies in the near future, and perhaps why he's not there yet.

The former Vanderbilt closer displayed electric stuff and struck out the side thanks to a fastball that routinely clocked in at 96-97 mph and a slider that reached 88 mph and sat around 85 mph. However, after striking out the first hitter, Weathers walked two batters and gave up a single before buckling down to fan the next two to escape the inning unscathed.

The outing reaffirmed what we already knew about Weathers. He's a major-league talent with a truly power arm who has no difficulty missing bats. The fact that he could get out of the jam by recording back-to-back strikeouts (almost effortlessly, I might add) is what separates him from most relievers.

Still, Weathers, a converted outfielder, remains somewhat unpolished. While Weathers (2-0, 2.29 ERA) has 40 strikeouts in 35.1 innings, he has also issued 19 walks, too many for a big-league closer. For example, the Red Sox's Jonathan Papelbon has just seven walks in 40.2 innings and the Yankees' Mariano Rivera has just four in 42.1 innings.

Of course, the Angels' Francisco Rodriguez leads the league with 38 saves and has 26 walks in 42 innings, but I'm sure Mike Scioscia wouldn't mind if K-Rod cut down on the number of free passes.'s David Kull suggests that Weathers will be the Rockies' closer in the very near future, but I'm not sure there's a rush.

Colorado is in fourth place in the NL West, eight games behind Arizona, and barring a 2007-like run in the second half, will miss out on the playoffs. As a result, it might make sense to be patient with Weathers and give him more time to develop. If he is called up, Weathers would be best served to pitch the seventh and eighth innings before making the jump to closer next season.

Once he's ready, good luck to the opposing hitters trying to hit that overpowering fastball or killer slider.

Photo [Day Life]

No comments: