Worth the wait: Weiss' 4 outs 4 years in the making

September 3rd, 2022

ANAHEIM -- For Angels reliever , it was well worth the wait.

The right-hander, who had his contract selected from Triple-A Salt Lake as one of the Angels' September callups on Friday, had the dubious distinction of owning an infinity career ERA -- as he allowed four runs without recording an out in his lone Major League appearance with the Reds on April 12, 2018. But Weiss finally changed that more than four years later, as he threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Friday, retiring all four batters he faced on just 12 pitches in a 4-2 loss to the Astros at Angel Stadium.

It was a special night for Weiss, who grew up an Angels fan and attended nearby Northwood High School in Irvine and UCLA. His updated career 27.00 ERA still isn't pretty, but it sure beats an infinity ERA. Plus, he now claims a 0.00 ERA with the Angels this season, with more chances to lower his number down the stretch.

"I felt pretty prepared because I had been waiting for this for a long time," said Weiss, who had his wife, Tiana, his parents, Ernest and Nancy, and sister, Ariana, in attendance. "It was cool, obviously. It would've been nice if we won the ballgame but I was happy to get the opportunity. It was cool the way it went and I looked up and saw some family and saw my dad fist-pumping. So that was special."

Weiss, 30, signed a Minor League deal with the Angels in the offseason after stints in independent ball from 2019-21 and a 30-game stint with Triple-A Tacoma in the Mariners' organization last year. He pitched well at Salt Lake this year, posting a 4.50 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 50 innings, including a 2.38 ERA in 11 1/3 innings in August. He said he’s had to reinvent himself as a pitcher in recent years, as he was plagued by oblique injuries after his debut with Cincinnati.

"I kind of needed to retool myself," Weiss said. "I kept hurting my oblique, so I had to change my mechanics. It was a grind. But I believed I could compete at this level and I did everything I could to get back to this level."

Weiss had control problems in his Major League debut with the Reds, as he served up two homers and walked two batters, with just three of his 15 pitches going for strikes. But his first pitch to Martín Maldonado in the sixth inning on Friday was a strike, and it set the tone for the rest of his outing -- as he only threw two balls among his 12 pitches.

Weiss got Maldonado to ground out to shortstop on a 2-2 fastball before retiring Jose Altuve on a groundout to second on an 0-1 slider for the second out. He ended the inning by getting Jeremy Peña to fly out to right on an 0-1 fastball. Weiss came back out for the seventh and again got ahead in the count with a first-pitch slider for a strike against Alex Bregman before retiring the reigning AL Player of the Month with his slider on a popout.

"I thought he threw great," said interim manager Phil Nevin. "A lot of strikes and not good contact off him. I loved the way the ball came out of his hand with the fastball and the slider. I wanted to give him a soft landing in his first time back to the big leagues in four years, but he pitched great and I put him back out there to face another tough hitter in Bregman. He got him to pop up and did a great job and kept us in the game."

Weiss said his slider is his best pitch and he threw it eight times, getting two swings-and-misses using it to record two outs. He said he was able to command his slider well in Triple-A, and was pleased that it carried over in his Angels debut.

But he was even more pleased that he reached his ultimate goal of finally getting back to the Majors, especially in the circumstances of coming near his hometown and in front of his own cheering section.

"I had three stints in indy ball so I've been grinding, but my wife has been with me wherever I've been and everyone has been very supportive," Weiss said. "We're all SoCal people, so to be able to do it here was really cool and everyone was happy with that."