At this time last year, Ryan Weber was putting the finishing touches on his best start of the 2019 International League season for the PawSox.
Pitching in front of medium-sized crowd at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, the right-hander twirled seven masterful innings against the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Blue Jays.
Over those seven frames, Weber yielded just one earned run on one hit and three walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night. 54 of the 86 pitches he threw went for strikes, and the strong performance lowered his ERA on the year by six-tenths of a run.
Four days later, Weber was recalled by the Red Sox for what would be his second of four big-league stints in 2019.
The numbers the sinker baller put up while with Boston last year were not phenomenal, but still, he kept his spot on the Sox’ 40-man roster throughout the winter and spring. On Saturday, he got the start for the Home Sox, or Red Team, in the club’s third installment of intrasquad play at Summer Camp.
Despite not always pitching with the right number of defenders behind him, Weber yielded one run over four innings of work on Saturday and finished with a final pitch count of 64, 47 of which were strikes.
With all the uncertainty surrounding Boston’s starting rotation, Weber looks to be the club’s No. 3 starter behind Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez if Eduardo Rodriguez is not ready for the start of the season later this month.
He’s not flashy, he doesn’t have eye-popping velocity, but even so, Weber, a former 22nd-round draft pick, can certainly be effective.
The soon-to-be-30-year-old hurler has been working to add a cut-fastball to his repertoire the last two years, and he believes that pitch, as well as his ability to adequately command the strike zone, can work to his full advantage.
“The command portion is really what makes me effective,” Weber told reporters via Zoom Saturday. “When my command is on, I’m throwing all five of my pitches to both sides of the plate in any count. When I’m out there and everything is working, it’s pretty fun.”
Weber’s pitch mix includes that aforementioned cutter, a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider, a curveball, and a changeup.
Prior to the coronavirus-induced shutdown in March, the Florida native had impressed the Red Sox in Grapefruit League play, as he fanned 11 over nine scoreless innings through his first three starts of the spring. He’s kept that up thus far at Summer Camp.
“Not much affects him,” Sox manager Ron Roenicke said in regards to Weber’s mental toughness. “He’s pretty low-key. He doesn’t have highs and lows. Those kinds of guys, as starting pitchers, seem to be a little more consistent.”
If he is indeed Boston’s No. 3 starter to open things up, Weber’s first start of the 2020 campaign would come against the Orioles on July 26, two weeks from Sunday.