Luke Weaver hits roadblock in middle innings as D-backs fall to Rockies
PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Luke Weaver cruised early in the game against the Colorado Rockies Saturday night at Chase Field but struggled the second time through the lineup as the D-backs fell to the Rockies, 10-3.
In the first three innings of Weaver’s final start of the 2020 season, he only allowed two hits and no runs while striking out four on 47 pitches, 31 strikes.
The wheels fell off the bus in the fourth inning and fifth inning, however, as Weaver gave up five runs on five hits in the two frames as his pitch count swelled to 90.
Elias Diaz knocked in two runs with a home run, while Daniel Murphy and Raimel Tapia each picked up RBI singles. Charlie Blackmon scored Tapia on a sacrifice fly for the fifth Rockies run against Weaver.
The final line for Weaver reads five runs allowed – four earned – on seven hits in five innings while striking out six and walking none.
“There were some good moments and he did command the baseball,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said in a Zoom call with the media after the game. “The linescore looked much worse than he pitched.”
Even though he got the loss, his ninth of the season as opposed to one win, it was the fourth start out of five in September where Weaver went at least five innings, a stark improvement from earlier in the season.
Weaver only made it to the fifth inning in two of his seven starts across July and August, holding a 8.23 ERA and a .322 batting average.
His ERA in September decreased by more than three runs, 4.74, while his batting average against in the month was .255.
Weaver missed four months in the 2019 season due to a forearm strain and only made it back for one start prior to the end of the season.
After he struggled in the later innings in his starts to begin the season, Lovullo and the staff pumped the brakes on Weaver and built him back up slowly.
“We noticed some of the metrics with his pitches that he was falling off, not drastically, but there was some changes in some of the numbers,” Lovullo said.
“That led to probably a poor start for him and a lot of frustration, but I saw some toughness. I saw the ability to accept coaching and continuing to move forward each and every day.”
Lovullo saw Weaver’s metrics and the spin rate on his pitches improve in September, saying the rise on the fastball got to be elite and he was using secondary stuff, even though it was inconsistent.
“He was finding a way to win the first three pitches of every count and that’s something that I feel he did very, very well from the time where we continued to rebuild his pitch count,” Lovullo said.
“I just think he needs to find a way to maintain his stuff throughout the entire outing and those are discussions we will have the rest of this offseason.”
After Weaver was pulled on Saturday, the Rockies tacked on two more runs against D-backs reliever Silvino Bracho, who was making his first appearance since 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2019.
The seven-run lead Colorado starter German Marquez was provided with was plenty as he contained the D-backs offense that less than 24 hours prior put up 14 runs in 14 innings of a doubleheader sweep on Friday.
All three D-backs runs against Marquez were unearned.
Daulton Varsho scored in the first inning on a throwing error by shortstop Trevor Story, while Josh VanMeter scored on a wild pitch in the fifth inning.
Christian Walker reached second base on a wild pitch and scored on an Eduardo Escobar single in the sixth inning.
Marquez allowed five hits to the D-backs while striking out seven in his seven innings of work, using only 88 pitches to get the job done.
Colorado added some extra insurance with three runs in the ninth inning off Taylor Widener.
The D-backs and Rockies conclude their respective seasons on Sunday, with Madison Bumgarner toeing the rubber for Arizona against Kyle Freeland.
First pitch is at 12:10 p.m. and can be heard on ESPN 620 AM.