09/16/09 1:30 AM ET
Weaver stands tall amid it all
Righty the glue for Angels staff enduring pain, tragedy
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
"It's been a weird season, that's for sure," he said. "Some ups and downs, as far as the pitching staff is concerned. Our offense helped us get through some bumps in the road, and now we have five guys with experience we have confidence in every five days. We've come together, and it's a good feeling."
The season wasn't a week old when Weaver and his Angels teammates lost a good friend, pitcher Nick Adenhart, to a fatal car wreck. Nothing could possibly prepare a team or an individual for those kinds of emotions.
Weaver watched another buddy, Kelvim Escobar, work feverishly to rebound from shoulder surgery, make one promising start and disappear. The shoulder would allow no more.
Weaver watched John Lackey and Ervin Santana miss the opening month and a half of the season to arm issues, come back and search and search before finding what was missing.
Weaver saw Joe Saunders struggle to varying degrees with shoulder issues before going to the disabled list, coming back 19 days later with his All-Star stuff from 2008.
Weaver has seen 13 teammates make starts over the course of a season unlike any other, from Shane Loux and Dustin Moseley to Matt Palmer and Anthony Ortega to Sean O'Sullivan and Trevor Bell.
Through it all, Weaver -- and only Weaver -- has taken the ball every fifth day.
"He's been so good, so consistent," teammate Torii Hunter said of the slender right-hander who proudly calls Simi Valley, Calif., in Ventura County his home. "I don't know where we'd be without Jered Weaver."
Weaver is 15-6 with career highs in victories, innings pitched (194) and strikeouts (164) in his fourth season. He endured a dead-arm stage after a brilliant first half, sending his ERA soaring, but he kept taking his turn and his lumps, knowing how much he was needed with a depleted rotation.
Now, as if by magic, Weaver finds himself nearing the finish line, surrounded by quality starters.
Scott Kazmir arrived from Tampa Bay and has been lights out in three starts (1.86 ERA) even though he has no wins to show for his efforts.
Lackey is back to being Lackey, the lead dog, snarling and bringing the heat.
Saunders is on a roll, four wins in four starts, his fastball command back in fine working order.
Santana hasn't found a groove close to the one he had in 2008 when he joined Saunders on the American League All-Star team, but he's delivering quality work again.
Manager Mike Scioscia is calling it the best, deepest rotation he's had in his 10 years in Anaheim, and Weaver sees why.
"When we got Kaz, that was big," Weaver said of the Aug. 28 trade that sent Sean Rodriguez, Alex Torres and Matt Sweeney to the Rays. "He's done a great job for us already. We just haven't been able to get him any runs.
"We had guys come in and do a great job when we needed them. But some of the guys didn't quite have the experience. It's nice to have five guys who can do the job and who know what it takes, guys who have been through it. Kaz is only 25, but he's already achieved a lot of things.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can do now. It's exciting to be part of this."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.