The Angels needed to win a series against the Texas Rangers to propel themselves back in the AL West race, and Mike Scioscia went with his ace to on Sunday night in an attempt to cut the division deficit to one game.
Scioscia's plan to start Jered Weaver on three days rest, which I believe was the right one, blew up in his face. Weaver struggled through six innings of work, allowing eight hits—two of them home runs—seven runs and four walks.
Weaver did not appear to be the same pitcher who came into Sunday with a 15-6 record and an ERA of 2.03. Despite a strike percentage of 60.2 percent last night, his command was essentially non-existent. Weaver's fastball command was especially off within in the strike zone, but he clearly did not have as much confidence in some of his off-speed pitches.
The Rangers were able to produce line drives at a 22.7 percent rate against Weaver, who had an 18 percent rate entering the start.
In addition, Weaver's average fastball velocity was lacking against the Rangers. He came into the start averaging 89.4 mph on the pitch, but it sunk to 88.4 mph for the night. He only recorded two swinging strikes on fastballs.
Weaver, who throws curveballs at an 11 percent rate, only threw one against the Rangers on Sunday. The change-up was also featured less, at only 12.2 percent last night compared to his usual 15 percent, but he relied heavily on his slider at 25.2 percent.
Whether it was pitching on three days rest for the first time of his career or just general ineffectiveness, managers will be more hesitant about having starting pitchers throw on short rest. Weaver's stuff was not present, as evident in his 7.8 percent swinging strike rate, which is below his 9.5 percent seasonal rate.
I'm still a firm believer in going with your best pitchers in the biggest games (Joel Piniero would have fared worse against the Rangers), but starts like Sunday will certainly be used as evidence for going with pitchers only on full rest.