Jordan Weems, who turned 30 this week, was a 2009 3rd Round pick by Boston’s Red Sox, who then signed with, and debuted in the majors for, the Oakland Athletics in 2020, and he was subsequently selected off waivers by Arizona’s Diamondbacks in ‘21, before becoming a free agent and signing a minor league deal with Washington in March of ‘22.
Weems, “went 2–1 with six saves and a 3.38 ERA in 19 games for Triple-A Rochester,” as the Nationals noted in a press release making his call-up official this past May 31st.
“He struck out 32 batters and walked just five in 24.0 innings pitched. His six saves ranked second among Nationals’ Minor Leaguers,” the club added.
“The biggest thing with him is throwing strikes, right,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters after the club called the reliever up, “and pounding the strike zone.”
“He’s got a good mix of fastballs, a slider, a split, but man he’s pounding the strike zone and he throws the ball hard, and he was getting outs. He was closing for Rochester, and he kept getting better and better, so we kept close eyes on him as we do with all those guys, but we felt like he has his feet underneath [him], he checked all the boxes that we wanted to see, and he’s going to get an opportunity to help us here.
“I told him just he has to be ready anywhere from the fifth or sixth inning on and we’ll see how it goes.”
Weems was up and down between the minors and majors, but the right-hander did make a total of 32 appearances for the Nationals, and he put up a 5.22 ERA, a 4.25 FIP, 12 walks, 26 Ks, and a .230/.285/.441 line against in 39 2⁄3 IP, throwing his 96.8 MPH fastball 63.8% of the time (.244 BAA) and mixing in his slider (24%, .245), his change (9.2%, .083), and a curveball (3.0%, .200).
“We gave him a task when I first saw him in Spring Training about throwing strikes, getting the ball over the strike zone with all his pitches, developing a third pitch,” Martinez said over the final week of the regular season. “So at the end ... what I’m seeing now is a guy that — and he’s still fairly young as a pitcher — a guy that’s learned a lot about not only how to attack hitters, but about himself, and that he feels a lot more confident that he can pitch up here, which is great.”
“He’s got a very live fastball,” the fifth-year skipper added, “… but his breaking pitches were developed really well this year. He throws a split, throws a good curveball.
“We still want him to be able to land his curveball early in counts, but he’s done a lot better, and you can see that.”
The most important development for the reliever this season, Martinez explained, was the confidence he developed over the course of the year.
“He’s got a lot of confidence going on the mound now,” Martinez said, “so we talked a lot about that with him, how, ‘When I first saw you, you were out there and something went wrong, you know, you dropped your head, you started getting frustrated, you started breathing faster,’ I said, ‘Now all of a sudden you’re staying in the moment and you know that you can get yourself out of situations,’ so moving forward he’s a good one.
“We got quite a few down there in the bullpen that are going to be really good.
“We’re excited that he came back up, he worked hard, he was very diligent about what he wanted to do and he had a really good year for us.”