With the D-backs up 7-0, Weaver gave up back-to-back doubles to start the fourth inning as the Rockies scored their first run.
“I think that one inning where they scored the run, that’s an inning right there that last year could have spiraled a little bit, especially in a ballpark like this,” Weaver said.
Instead, though, Weaver gathered himself and retired the next three Colorado hitters en route to allowing just that one run over seven innings while striking out eight.
“You try to not let the game speed up on you,” Weaver said. “Last year, it was just things sped up on me. I maybe pressed a little harder instead of taking a step back, staying over the rubber and just getting through the ball. This year has been a big step in that department.”
That step has shown up in his results.
Acquired by the D-backs on Dec. 5 from the Cardinals as part of the Paul Goldschmidt trade, Weaver was coming off a year in which he had gone 7-11 with a 4.95 ERA.
This season, after giving up five runs in his first start, Weaver has had it rolling over his past six outings, not allowing more than three runs in any of those starts.
Catcher Carson Kelly, who came over with Weaver in the Goldschmidt trade and also caught Weaver in the St. Louis system, has noticed the change. Kelly also contributed to Weaver's run support, with his first career homer as part of back-to-back shots with shortstop Nick Ahmed in the second inning.
“Luke continues to get better and better every time,” Kelly said. “He goes out with the gameplan and he sticks with it. You can just see him build that confidence and continue to attack. I think that’s when Luke is at his best.”
The key, again, is that with his increased experience and confidence, Weaver is able to self-correct before things get out of hand.
“I think sometimes when stuff goes a little sideways with him, if he’s missing drastically or he’s not hitting his spots, [he’s] really quick to get back in to it,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t take six, seven pitches for him to find the groove again. It takes him two, maybe. One or two. And that’s something that continues to help him get through games.”
Weaver (3-1, 3.29 ERA) has always had an outstanding changeup, and a fastball that reaches the mid-90s. While he thought the key to his success this year would be improving his curveball, what has really paid dividends for him is his cutter.
By throwing his four-seam fastball up in the zone, his changeup down and using the cutter to get off opposing barrels, Weaver hasn’t had to rely as much on his curve. When it’s there for him, it’s just another weapon in his arsenal.
“Being able to use it as a pitch to kind of get me ahead in counts and get some quick outs,” Weaver said of his cutter. “More than anything, I think the more I can throw something, the more confident I’ll be. That pitch is the more I throw it, the more confidence I have in it. It’s just throwing it. It’s Carson calling it, me and just throwing it and believing it.
"There’s going to be days when the cutter might not work along with the changeup or any of those pitches. That’s why, as starters, you want to have three or four pitches that we believe in and can attack with.”
Kelly hit his first career Major League homer in the second inning to center on a ball that he wasn’t sure was going to get out.
“It went over and it was just an awesome moment,” he said. “It really was. It brought me back to when I got my first hit.”
Kelly got the ball thanks to a fan who returned it to the D-backs in exchange for some autographs. However he left before Kelly got to thank him.
“Doug is the one who caught it,” he said. “I wish I got to meet him, but I think he got it and was willing to give it up to me, which was nice. Shout out to Doug. Hopefully I’ll get to meet him at some point.”