Jered Weaver's secret weapon

Don't expect his stats to fall off due to a decrease in fastball velocity

Updated: April 6, 2014, 12:50 PM ET
By Justin Havens | ESPN Insider

Jered Weaver AP Photo/Jim CowsertJered Weaver is a different pitcher than he was five years ago, but the results are similar.

In his first start of the season, Jered Weaver was very much Jered Weaver. In 2014, that is defined as a pitcher with an average fastball velocity somewhere in the mid- to high 80s, which is what it was on Opening Day -- 85.8 mph. While it's only one game, and there's room for error in single-game radar readings, it continues a well-known trend: Weaver's velocity is dropping.

In 2010, which was likely Weaver's best season, he fanned 233 batters while averaging 89.8 mph. Since then, his fastball velocity has dropped steadily, all the way down to an average of 86.5 last year, topping out at 91.8.

For most pitchers, this would be a sign of disaster, and you can count on one hand the number of right-handed starters who thrive with velocity in the mid-80s. But Weaver has cracked the code of how to succeed -- posting a 3.27 ERA last year -- with a fastball that wouldn't look out of place during batting practice.

Keep away

Weaver Heat Map
ESPN Stats & Information

Weaver Heat Map
ESPN Stats & Information

While it would be easy to attribute this success to "veteran guile" and move on, the way Weaver has changed where he throws both his diminished fastball and his curveball to left-handed batters reveals several distinct trends.