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MLB Today: Jered Weaver’s Losing Skid Continues

May 19, 2011 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Sadie McMahon was an ace for the Baltimore Orioles.
Sadie McMahon remains the last pitcher to be 7-0 by May 2.

After winning each of his first six starts, Jered Weaver was entering extremely rarefied territory.

When he suffered his first loss of the season in Boston a couple of weeks ago, Weaver lost his chance to become the first pitcher to go 7-0 by May 2 since Sadie McMahon did it for the Orioles in 1891. Wow, how impressive would that have been?

However, Weaver has suddenly looks quite human and on Wednesday against the Mariners he dropped his fourth straight start. It’s not as if he’s been pounded during this stretch – he’s gone six innings in each outing, surrendering six or seven hits and three or four runs each time – but when compared to his first half-dozen starts of the season, it looks like a slump. He’s given up a total of 14 runs in his last four starts combined – like I said, he’s not getting bitch slapped or anything like that.

We were pleased to see he kept the ball in the park on Wednesday after yielding two dingers against Texas in his previous start. Then again, Seattle isn’t exactly known for its home run power.

It’s obvious Weaver just isn’t as sharp right now. It took him a whopping 115 pitches to get through six innings; for comparison’s sake, he threw 119 pitches in a complete game on April 20.

We expected Weaver to be a top 10 starter this season, but so far he’s definitely exceeded that, pitching well enough to be the AL’s best and likely second only to Roy Halladay among all of baseball’s starters.

While Weaver’s strikeout pace has dropped from last season’s MLB-leading performance, he’s also trimmed his walk rate slightly while his hit rate is currently at career-best levels (.205 BAA), helping him forge a superb 2.45 ERA through 10 starts, another career best.

As mentioned above, he hasn’t exactly dominated in his recent starts, but he’s also been the victim of some crappy run support; the Halos have only managed one run in his last two starts combined. Even when at his best, that’s not enough for Weaver to be racking up Ws.

We all should have learned a lesson last year when, by May, we anointed Ubaldo Jimenez as the NL Cy Young winner and wondered whether he’d win 30 games. Yet when Weaver got off to a similarly blazing start in April, the projections began anew.

Be forewarned: there could be corrections still to come for Weaver: his BABIP is a bit lower than usual and his strand rates are a tad high – both of which indicate that overall he’s been a bit fortunate in his results to date. It’s something to think about should you receive trade offers for him after his next gem.

Erick Aybar got hurt in early-April, but man has he been raking since coming back. Unfortunately, that hot streak has screeched to a halt this week. He was 0-for-8 in the mini series against the A’s and took an 0-for-3 Wednesday (although he did manage to walk twice).

After showing such promise with the bat in 2009, Aybar really scuffled last year in what was mostly a forgettable, injury-riddled campaign. This season, however, Aybar has taken a major step forward, both in the batting average and stolen base departments. Before his current tailspin, he was batting .351, tops among all shortstops. Since the skid, Aybar has dipped to .320, behind only teammate Maicer Izturis and Starlin Castro among players that currently qualify at short. Not too shabby.

Peter Bourjos isn’t quite ready to take over the lead-off role for the Angels, but Aybar – with an OBP north of .350 – doesn’t look ready to surrender it as he’s quickly become a must-own Fantasy player.

Unfortunately, the Angels have really gone into the tank lately. They’ve dropped four straight and six of their past seven games to fall to .500 for the first time in over a month. The Halos, who led the AL West for a couple of weeks, suddenly find themselves in third, just three games up on last-place Seattle. This is definitely the tightest division in baseball through the first seven weeks of the season.

Still in the AL West, have the Rangers turned the corner after their 9-17 skid dropped them to .500 after that brilliant 9-1 start? After edging the Royals in extra innings Wednesday, Texas has now won five of its past seven games to move back into sole possession of first in the AL Central. More importantly, Ron Washington’s crew is getting healthy. Josh Hamilton (shoulder) has started his rehab assignment and could return early next week; Nelson Cruz (quad) could be back this weekend; and Scott Feldman is getting very close to rejoining the team, although we still aren’t sure in what capacity.

Ian Kinsler has been performing pretty much exactly as we anticipated. We ranked him seventh at the keystone corner, and he’s been playing at that very level. Yes, every now and then we are so on the ball it scares us.

Unfortunately, he’s been seriously inconsistent for his owners. The dude homered in each of the first three games of the season then went into a tailspin that found him batting just .170 as of April 17. Kinsler turned it on to finish April with a much more respectable, but hardly earth-shattering mark of .233. And despite going hitless in the past two games, Kinsler has been a bit better in May, batting .250 with four steals so far. However, where’s the power, dude? Kinsler has not gone yard this month.

His usual fine batting eye has reached a new level this year, but it certainly hasn’t manifested itself in a better BA (just .239 so far). Much of that is simply luck related. Kinsler’s career BABIP is .289; so far this year, it’s just .243. Before all is said and done, Kinsler will likely hit around .275-.280 this year, so he could easily be viewed as a fine buy-low target.

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