Padres: Breaking down Ryan Weathers’ impressive start to 2021

A while back, it looked as if Ryan Weathers might be the latest in a quickly growing list of Padres hurlers to hit the shelf due to injury. But that turned out to be a case of dead arm and, after some rest, the 21-year-old southpaw has come roaring back into the picture for San Diego.

Given the injuries that cost Adrian Morejon his season and delayed Dinelson Lamet’s 2021 debut by a month, you can’t blame anyone for feeling less than optimistic when Weathers was sidelined, as well. But he’s turned into an undisputed bright spot on a pitching staff loaded with talent.

You’d likely never guess it, but according to Baseball Reference WAR, Weathers has meant more to the Padres this season than Fernando Tatis Jr (0.9 to 0.8 WAR). Through eight appearances, including three starts, the lefty boasts an impressive 0.81 ERA and 0.716 WHIP while allowing just a ridiculous 3.6 H/9.

Padres love Ryan Weathers’ versatility

Weathers piggybacked Chris Paddack on Sunday, tossing a trio of scoreless frames against San Francisco. The story so far has been no matter what role he finds himself in, the former first-rounder is finding success.

“He’s going to start some,” Jayce Tingler told the San Diego Union-Tribune this weekend. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I know he’s capable of coming out of the pen. He’s capable of starting. We’re going to need the depth.”

According to Baseball Savant, opponents of Weathers have tallied a wOBA of just .198, which ranks in the top four percent of qualified pitchers. How has he done it? Really, it’s a two-pitch combination of his fastball and slider with a sinker sprinkled in there. Technically, he throws a change-up, but at just five percent of the time, it’s not a major part of his arsenal.

The horizontal movement on his heater is well above league average and at 94.2 MPH, it packs a punch velocity-wise. All this to say – without substantive Minor League experience, Weathers has found success at the highest levels and he looks more and more like a make-or-break presence on this year’s Padres ball club.

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The year is young, sure. But Weathers has answered the call time and time again already – and he shows no signs of slowing up anytime soon.