Luke Weaver primed to play a pivotal role in Yankees’ 2024 title quest
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The Yankees made a strategic move by signing Luke Weaver to a one-year, $2 million contract, including a potential $2.5 million club option. This move is a necessary depth addition for the pitching-needy Bronx Bombers. Despite the 30-year-old pitcher’s unremarkable 2023 season, split among three teams and plagued by injuries, his brief stint with the Yankees late last year hinted at the untapped potential.
The New York Yankees fortified their starting pitching rotation through a dual-pronged strategy last week, securing a significant signing and addressing a crucial gap. The marquee addition is Marcus Stroman, a 2023 All-Star who finalized a two-year, $37 million deal with a vesting option for a potential third year. He steps into the rotation vacancy created by the departure of Michael King, who was part of the package traded to San Diego in the Juan Soto deal.
While Stroman takes center stage, the decision to bring back Luke Weaver revolves around his evolving pitching arsenal, a key need for the Yankees to make sure their bullpen pips the rivals’ batting order as it is thrust into action.
Luke Weaver brings his cutter back to Yankees’ arsenal
Luke Weaver’s traditional combination of a mid-90s fastball and changeup saw a significant enhancement in July 2023 with the reintroduction of a cutter. This modified weapon, prominently used toward the end of the season, caught the attention of Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake. He expressed admiration for Luke Weaver’s “interesting mix” and applauded his “evolution,” particularly noting the promising synergy between the cutter and changeup.
The Yankees are taking a calculated gamble on this revamped version of Luke Weaver, banking on his revitalized pitching repertoire to deliver dependable innings. Considering the modest $2 million investment, any performance surpassing consistency would be deemed a valuable bonus. While Stroman captures the limelight as the star addition, Luke Weaver’s return quietly fills an essential void, and his potential upside adds an intriguing aspect to the Yankees’ offseason maneuvers.
Luke Weaver adds a versatile arm to Yankees bullpen
In addition to starting 25 games last season, Luke Weaver showcased his adaptability by seamlessly transitioning to a relief role whenever required. His four relief appearances with the Mariners demonstrated his flexible skill set, ranging from one-inning stints to more extended outings of 2 1/3 and 4 1/3 innings. This versatility makes him a valuable asset, capable of filling gaps in either the starting rotation or the bullpen.
Given the possibility of the Yankees making further enhancements before the commencement of spring training, the current configuration of their rotation stands as follows:
Filling the depth void
The acquisitions of Soto and Verdugo came at a cost. The Yankees traded away seven pitchers, including established major leaguers like Michael King and promising prospects such as Richard Fitts. While retaining key arms like Chase Hampton, Clayton Beeter, and Will Warren, there was a noticeable gap in pitching depth that needed replenishing. Luke Weaver’s addition helps fill this organizational void, providing a reliable option for innings as needed.
The role of a long reliever may lack glamour. Dealing with irregular work and inconsistent workloads can be a thankless task. However, it is an indispensable component of any pitching staff, particularly throughout a demanding 162-game season. Luke Weaver steps into this role prepared to assume innings previously handled by departed pitchers like Brito and Vásquez. While his contributions may not always make front-page headlines, his dependable performances will be crucial in absorbing essential innings and supporting the overall rotation. Simply put, if the Yankees’ season heavily relies on Luke Weaver’s individual impact, they likely face more significant challenges.
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