Weathers makes statement by silencing LA

April 23rd, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- Welcome to the rotation, . Maybe stay a while?

On Thursday night, the Padres needed a big effort from their starter in the absolute worst way. They were reeling from a 1-5 homestand, their bullpen taxed after Dinelson Lamet's early exit the day before.

So they handed the ball to a 21-year-old rookie at Dodger Stadium. And Ryan Weathers delivered the goods, blanking the Dodgers over 5 2/3 one-hit innings, in a nervy 3-2 Padres victory.

The left-hander is making a habit of stifling the Dodgers. He’s faced them for three of his six professional appearances and hasn’t allowed a run across 10 2/3 innings. Thursday night was only Weathers’ second career start -- both of them scoreless, both against L.A.

“There's always some nerves,” Weathers said. “You don't have any nerves going into a game like that, you're not human. I had nerves going into the game, but just figured out how to combat it and keep it under control.”

At 21, Weathers became the youngest visiting starter to work at least five scoreless innings while allowing just one hit at Dodger Stadium. Only one Dodger in history had ever accomplished that feat at a younger age, and he starts for L.A. on Friday night. Clayton Kershaw, you may have heard of him.

“He's not overwhelmed by anything,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler of Weathers. “He's got a slow heartbeat, and you wouldn't realize this is one of the first starts he's ever made. He looks like he's been doing it for years. He looks under control. And he's confident.”

Early this week, it would’ve been tough for the Padres to envision asking Weathers to chew up nearly six innings. He made the team as the swing-man in the bullpen and had never completed four frames in the big leagues.

But after Lamet’s injury on Wednesday, the Padres had to ask seven relievers to cover seven innings. They were feeling the effects on Thursday.

“This was the day we were probably worried a little bit on the length,” Tingler said.

Weathers eased those concerns, needing 89 pitches to work through his 5 2/3. The only hit he surrendered was an opposite-field single by Dodgers starter Walker Buehler.

“Anytime you go out there as a starter, your job is to eat quality innings, give a quality start,” Weathers said. “But I did have in the back of my head that the bullpen had to go lengthy yesterday. Just do whatever I could to make them not have to cover as many innings, just go out there, throw strikes and don't nibble.”

Weathers joined the Padres’ rotation out of necessity when Adrian Morejon went down with an elbow injury. When Lamet returned on Wednesday, it seemed likely that Thursday would be Weathers’ final start before a return trip to the bullpen.

Now -- even if Lamet were to return in early May, as the Padres hope -- it’s tough to envision them removing Weathers from the rotation. Not if he continues pitching like this.

“It’s incredible,” said Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth, who helped author a brilliant game-saving double play in the eighth inning, as Weathers watched from the treatment room. “Didn’t really know if he was going to be a starter or in the bullpen coming out of Spring Training. He’s kind of filled in that starter role, and he’s been absolutely unbelievable, working super quick, keeping us in the game, throwing strikes and keeping guys off-balance. What he did tonight was awesome.”