JUPITER, Fla. -- Luke Weaver came into camp this spring not only wanting to make a push for the fifth spot in the rotation, but desiring to showcase an expanded arsenal of pitches during the process.
Over 36 1/3 innings as a rookie last season, Weaver relied heavily on a two-pitch mix. His four-seam fastball and changeup, in fact, accounted for 83 percent of the 682 pitches that Weaver threw, according to data compiled by brooksbaseball.net. There were curveballs and cutters occasionally mixed in, but rarely did he turn elsewhere.
Though he had a slider and sinker in his repertoire, Weaver stayed mostly away from those options. He threw five sliders in nine appearances last season and eight total sinkers. Both are priorities for him this spring, and he wasted no time incorporating them in his Grapefruit League debut, an 8-7 loss to the Marlins.
After Miami's first three hitters reached in the first, Weaver threw Giancarlo Stanton a sinker that induced a double play. In the next inning, Weaver's slider caught Destin Hood looking for a strikeout. The results offered some positive reinforcement.
"I see a lot of potential from it, so I'm going to continue to [throw] it," Weaver said, speaking specifically of the slider. "From there, maybe keep building, maybe throw in the curveball in some upcoming innings and continue to thrive."
Though Weaver, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the organization's No. 3 prospect, had a quick and successful rise through the system leaning heavily on his four-seam fastball and changeup, he saw during his big league stint how much the sinker can assist with efficiency.
That's also an area in which Weaver desires improvement, too, after averaging 19 pitches per inning with the Cardinals. It's an untenable workload for someone looking to stick as a starter.
"Especially with as much sink as he has," manager Mike Matheny said, "I think those could complement each other well."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.