Let’s go back to April 16, 2021. It was a Friday night at Petco Park and the first of 19 games between the Dodgers and Padres this season. Walker Buehler was on the mound for Los Angeles while San Diego, on the other side, had a shaky pitching plan for that night. The starter was Ryan Weathers because a starter was hurt.
Weathers wasn’t expected to go very deep and nobody would’ve blinked an eye if he struggled because he was facing arguably the best offense in baseball. He surprised many of us with his performance, going 3.2 shutout innings and allowing just one hit.
He would continue to have those quality types of starts all the way up until the end of July where things went south really quickly. On the day of the trade deadline, Weathers, after retiring his first two batters, gave up eight runs and three home runs to the Rockies and it wouldn’t get better in the month of August. The 21-year-old allowed a combined 23 runs in his next five starts. All five of those starts were against teams who didn’t make the postseason.
Weathers finished the season with a -0.3 WAR and 5.32 ERA in 18 starts and 30 appearances.
Unfortunately, some fans are going to remember Weathers’ struggles in the midst of the Padres collapse and probably not be very confident in the young left-hander going into next year—at least as a starter. To be fair, I don’t blame them either because I was at that July 30 start where the game was over after the first inning. It sucked to watch that.
Weathers best fits long term as a reliever in the Padres bullpen when everyone is healthy. Part of that is because Mike Clevinger, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, and Chris Paddack are better starting pitchers than Weathers when healthy but also because the numbers back up this claim.
As a starter (18 starts), Weathers owned a 6.36 ERA with 17 home runs allowed. As a reliever (12 games), he owned a much better 2.49 ERA with just three homers allowed. I believe Weathers sees more success as a reliever because he’s someone who attacks the zone so he gets through opposing lineups pretty easily the first time through but then hitters are more patient to get ‘their’ pitch to hit the second time through. He also brings value to the pitching staff because he’s a lefty.
It will be interesting to see what role Weathers has in 2022. Hopefully it’s as a reliever because then that means all of the starters are healthy and Chris Paddack is pitching well.