Weathers dazzles with 5th straight quality start

May 27th, 2024

PHOENIX -- Players danced and sang as the music bumped in Sunday afternoon's postgame Marlins clubhouse. This scene doesn't take place a month ago when the club got off to the worst start in franchise history.

After left-hander tossed six scoreless innings and Jake Burger drove in two in a 3-1 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field, the Marlins have won four straight series for the first time since April 2023.

Before May 12, the Marlins (19-35) had won just one series all season and held MLB's worst record (10-31). Since then, they have been 9-4, thanks to the pitching staff: Miami's starter ERA (2.72) during that stretch is fifth in MLB, and its overall ERA (2.80) in the same span is third.

"Well, you don't like to get your [butt] kicked every day, so yes, the mood has changed," Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. "We had a tough start, there's no doubt about it. [We] obviously traded away a popular player, but to those guys' credit, the game moves on. It does not stop, and we're going to try to win every single game no matter what happens outside of this clubhouse.

"And so I give a lot of credit to our staff and to those players that they kept going. They didn't sulk. Maybe they sulked for a day. But I think they believe that there's enough talent in that clubhouse, even in that losing streak or skid, that this thing was going to turn. And again, I can't say enough: It starts with [pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.] and that starting pitching staff, and they've done a tremendous job."

Though the returns of left-handers Jesús Luzardo and Braxton Garrett provided stability to the rotation, this turnaround begins with the club's most consistent starter.

Weathers, 24, recorded his career-high fifth straight quality start, becoming the first Marlin since Luzardo to do so. Weathers scattered four hits -- all singles -- with seven strikeouts and one walk.

"It was a lot of velo today, I saw that, and he had a really good changeup," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "He was walking the ball around the zone. When he was in San Diego, we saw him do that. You just can't miss your pitch and I thought there were times we had counts in our favor but we didn't get the swing off."

Here's a look at Weathers' numbers from his first six starts compared to his last five:

  • 29 2/3 vs. 33 innings -- second most in MLB
  • 4.55 vs. 1.91 ERA – 13th lowest (minimum 25 innings)
  • 1.48 vs. 0.73 WHIP – third lowest
  • .246/.360/.407 vs. .165/.213/.278 slash line against
  • 26 strikeouts, 15 walks vs. 27 strikeouts, five walks

Weathers, who had to earn his spot in Spring Training, has evolved in front of our eyes. Before May, he slogged through outings, accumulating high pitch counts early in games. He didn't trust his four-seam fastball as much (24.4%) and threw his changeup (15.4%) and sweeper (13.2%) about the same amount. In the finale, Weathers showcased more of his arsenal, turning to his sinker (20.9 percent) and increasing his changeup usage (27.5%).

"Probably since high school," Weathers said of the last time he had pitched this well. "Just getting back to trusting myself and like I said, just trusting myself over the heart of the plate and having conviction on every pitch.

"I think just mixing and matching. Probably, this is the most split usage I've had with all my pitches in my career. Just got to keep throwing offspeed in good counts and keep throwing fastballs in good counts and just got to keep rolling."

By keeping it close, Miami broke a scoreless deadlock in the seventh on Bryan De La Cruz's fielder's choice. Burger added a two-run single with two outs to extend the lead.

"We've always known how nasty our starting rotation is, and it's obviously coming around more so day in and day out right now," said Burger, who finished with six hits and three RBIs over the weekend.

"It's always fun playing behind all of our guys, making plays behind them and seeing them do their thing and have the confidence out there to go after hitters," Burger said. "And anyway, we can help offensively, that's always a big thing, too. Going into the seventh, it was like, 'Hey, Weathers threw a hell of a game. Let's get some run support for him,' and ultimately came out there focused a little more and got three runs in that inning."