Ryan Weber believes he made the decision easy for manager Ron Roenicke. He doesn’t feel like a potential rotation spot was just given to him. The opportunity in front of him is a product of his own performance.
“If you look at what I did during spring training, it’s not like Ron committed to me giving up six runs or whatever,” Weber said Saturday afternoon. “I was sharp every outing. I went out there and did my job. That’s what Ron expected me to do.”
In nine spring innings, Weber didn’t give up a run and struck out 11 batters.
Nevertheless, the sample size is small and dominant spring numbers aren’t a good indicator of what will happen in the regular season. Furthermore, it’s fair to question what type of impact he’ll make as a starter in the upcoming 60-game season. He struggled last year, with a 5.09 ERA in 40⅔ innings, as opponents hit .284 against him. The 18 appearances with the Red Sox were the most in the big leagues after stints with the Braves, Mariners, and Rays.
To project that he had the potential to be a starter wasn’t a thought. But the David Price trade to Dodgers, in addition to the injury to Chris Sale and, more recently, Eduardo Rodriguez likely missing Opening Day after contracting COVID-19 have given Weber a seat at the starters’ table. The spring numbers amplified his case. But even coming into the spring, Roenicke was encouraged by Weber’s stuff.
“I like him because he goes right after hitters,” Roenicke said. “You know what you’re going to get. He moves the ball in and out. He’s got command. He throws strikes. He’s capable of going through some really good lineups. He’s a great athlete, so he knows how to repeat things.”
Weber is a finesse guy. He relies on location more than power. His cutter, he thinks, has taken his game to a higher level.
“I started throwing my cutter, trusting that,” he said. “It’s a complementary pitch off my sinker. It just adds another piece to make me effective. I think that has upped my performance, having the ability to throw five pitches for strikes.
“I think my stuff plays better as a starter than a reliever. I started focusing on the importance of every single pitch.”
Each pitch will surely matter in this shortened season. Each game does, too. Now, Weber finds himself at the center of a Red Sox team who is depending on him to produce.
This team unquestionably needs starters.
“If I keep doing what I’ve been doing and hone in and get sharper, I think I can be a starter and I can go through a whole season and make 30 [plus] starts for a major league team and be effective,” Weber said. “I plan on getting better and better.”