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August 22, 2011 at 7:59 AM

The Book: Kyle Weiland

RHP Kyle Weiland
Date: August 20, 2011
Team: Pawtucket Red Sox
Age: 24

Outing: 5.0+ innings, 6 hits, 5 strikeouts, 4 walks, 3 earned runs allowed, 92 pitches

Fastball: Weiland threw 47 fastballs in the outing, which represented half of the offerings he delivered on the day. It was evident early that he wasn’t feeling this pitch well. Weiland had trouble spotting his fastball out of the gate and also was leaving it up in the zone. He surrendered back-to-back singles against belt high heaters in the second inning that was a good signal his command was off. Both pitches lacked Weiland’s trademark arm-side movement as well, flattening out in the middle of the plate. As the start progressed he turned away from his fastball to throw it less than 50 percent of the time in his later innings, but when he did throw it later he found a little more command of the pitch. Typically sitting 92-93 MPH and touching up to 94, Weiland’s fastball early on was in this velocity range. After laboring through the second inning and throwing 34 pitches to this point, his velocity began to tick down consistently, dropping down to 88-89 MPH in the fifth inning. Weiland was not able to get into a groove throwing this pitch and also lacked the movement he usually shows.

Secondary Offerings: Weiland turned to his secondary pitches very early to help mitigate the fact he didn’t have his best fastball in the outing. He heavily leaned on his cut-fastball, throwing it 21 times to pick up 13 strikes and commanded this offering the best in the outing. Showing tight break at times across the strike zone, the pitch operated 86-88 MPH. Weiland closed out the fifth inning with an especially nasty 87 MPH cutter to generate a wild swing and miss. He also flashed his curveball more as he got deeper into the start. Throwing 16 of them in all, he featured it 10 times from the fourth inning on. Weiland was inconsistent with producing hard snap though. He wrapped his wrist around some curveballs to cause loopy break and for the offering to lack tight rotation down through the strike zone. When Weiland did finish well, his curve showed deep break and his best one resulted in a knee-bending called third strike. Working 78-80 MPH, his curveball grades as a solid-average offering that will at times show itself as a plus pitch. Weiland sprinkled his low-80s changeup into the outing 8 times. While a fringe-average pitch, batters were not looking for it and he picked up 5 strikes. His changeup tended to float, but because batters weren’t looking for it and the infrequency with using it, batters took it.

Take: Weiland clearly didn’t have his best stuff in this outing and has shown much better command of his arsenal in other looks over the course of the season. I liked how he battled though. Weiland didn’t pack it in early because things weren’t working for him and adjusted on the fly to use what he felt could work for him. He showed that his cut-fastball has become a piece of his repertoire that he can trust in sequences. A solid-average offering, when Weiland is snapping it off hard the late break causes hitters to either swing around the offering or chop on top of the ball. It is much more effective when he is commanding his plus two-seam fastball, but he still had some success when he went to it as his featured pitch as the start progressed. Weiland has worked hard to develop his secondary pitches. This has allowed him to lean on other offerings when he doesn’t have his best fastball. In his early career a day like this would have turned out with him getting knocked around and giving up a lot of runs.

Weiland looked worn down in this start and his fastball velocity, along with the lack of crisp overall stuff was a good indication of this. He displayed his strong 92-94 MPH velocity in the first and second innings, but after laboring to throw 21 pitches in the second it tailed off considerably. I saw him at a similar point last season and this pattern showed as well. The baseball season is a long grind. Weiland also expends a lot of energy with his delivery and does not generate easy velocity via a smooth, fluid delivery where the ball loosely comes out of his hand. He has a lot of moving parts and there is solid effort behind his arm action. This has always led me to project Weiland as best suited for a bullpen role at the major league level and despite the success he has had a starter in Triple-A this season, I still feel this way. While his secondary stuff has made solid strides since joining the Red Sox organization, he still doesn’t have a consistent plus one at his disposal. Weiland’s curveball can show above-average break, like it did at times in this outing, but it is inconsistent. His cutter is more of a varying look to his fastball and an average-to-slightly better pitch. A bullpen role will allow him to just feature his two best pitches and also keep him fresh during the long season. Given his excellent two-seam fastball and using either his curveball or cutter depending on which one he is feeling well, Weiland should prove to be a valuable multiple inning reliever, with the demeanor to work in high leverage situations.