Weaver masterful, 'heading in right direction'

Weaver masterful, 'heading in right direction'

ANAHEIM -- At one point this season, Angels right-hander Jered Weaver joked whether his hardest-thrown pitch was even worthy of being called a fastball anymore.

After seeing Weaver work seven innings of one-run ball and seeing his velocity tick up as high as 87 mph in Sunday's 8-1 win against the White Sox, Angels manager Mike Scioscia had a different way of describing the pitch.

"Frisky."

Just as he's had to do in each start this season, Weaver had to gut his way through every one of his 86 pitches. He worked backward, often using his offspeed pitches to set up his fastball. But on Sunday, Scioscia said he felt the 33-year-old had taken another step.

"[Jered] was letting it hum a little bit," Scioscia said. "He was going after guys with it, making some pitches with it. When you look at the whole package of what Jered does, when he's able to get that fastball coming out of his hand well, it's sneaky. It gets past some guys. Today, he pitched well with everything he had."

Weaver has dealt with tightness in his right shoulder throughout the season, depriving him of much of his velocity and limiting some of the same abilities that once made him one of the American League's most feared pitchers. Sunday, he didn't have to just get by. He dominated, pitching to contact and working quickly to mow down the Chicago lineup.

"Each and every outing gets better," Weaver said. "The tightness is starting to diminish. It's been quite a long process, a little bit longer than I anticipated, but every start it gets better, and it's heading in the right direction."

Weaver continues to pitch with pain, though he said it's starting to go down. His velocity, however, is slowly increasing. Whereas he struggled to hit 84 or 85 mph on the radar gun early in the season, he found himself closer to 86 with relative ease on Sunday. That, Weaver said, has made an incredible difference.

"It's not fun having to go out there and trick people and throw pitches that you wouldn't necessarily throw in certain counts," Weaver said. "To have a little more fastball and be able to locate it obviously keeps guys off your secondary pitches a little more."

Weaver's performance Sunday, which marked his second consecutive quality start, continued a strong run for a suddenly rejuvenated Angels starting rotation that has posted a 1.54 ERA over its last eight games. When Weaver allowed an RBI double to Adam Eaton in the third inning Sunday, it was the first run allowed by the Angels' pitching staff since the All-Star break.

The Angels, who secured their first sweep since May 13-15 against Seattle with Sunday's win, had three consecutive starters go seven innings for the first time since Andrew Heaney, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards did so from July 12-18, 2015. Hector Santiago threw seven scoreless on Friday, followed by Matt Shoemaker's first career shutout on Saturday. Sunday, it was Weaver's turn.

"After seeing what Hector did Friday and [Shoemaker] did last night, there's no doubt Jered wanted to leave it in as good of shape as he got it, and he did," Scioscia said.

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim and covered the Angels on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.