SF Giants: Young Righty Showing Growth in Third Season
In some ways, this has been an up-and-down season for Logan Webb as he was briefly relegated to the bullpen, then he was placed on the injured list with a strain in his right shoulder. However, once he reaches the mound, the 24-year-old has been excellent.
Webb is coming off of a superb start against the Los Angeles Dodgers where he yielded just two runs (one earned) on one hit, zero walks, and seven strikeouts. The right-handed hurler had to pitch through two errors in the second inning, which he did while limiting the Dodgers offense to just one run in that inning. Furthermore, he allowed zero walks against an offense that has the highest walk rate in baseball at 11.2 percent.
These are encouraging signs of growth, and when you dig through Webb’s season so far, you realize that he is very likely taking the next step in his development. On the year, he has posted a 3.86 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 9.9 K/9, and a stout 3.18 SO/W ratio through 49 frames.
Webb does not have enough innings to rank as a qualified starter yet, but his FIP is in the same neighborhood as Pablo Lopez (3.24 FIP), Max Scherzer (3.25 FIP), and Dlyan Cease (3.26 FIP). Don’t take real estate advice from me, but that is a good neighborhood to invest in.
The trait that stands out to me is not what his numbers look like, but how he is generating outs. For starters, his 9.9 K/9 is the highest mark of his young career by a healthy margin. The best way to avoid runs is by not allowing hitters to make contact and Webb has consistently done that in 2021.
When he is allowing contact, he has done well to minimize optimal contact. That is, Webb is inducing a ground ball in 58 percent of his batted ball events. In today’s game, Opposing hitters are actively trying to lift the ball into the air, but Webb has allowed a fly ball in only 16.8 percent of batted ball events. That is a very, very strong rate.
There are not many pitchers in baseball with Webb’s combination of swing-and-miss stuff and groundball-heavy approach. Lance McCullers Jr. (10.3 K/9, 53.6% ground ball rate) is the closest comparison that I could find. Is that the type of upside Webb is beginning to realize? It sure seems that way if these numbers are held constant.
The Giants are nearing the one-third mark on the season, and they must like what they are seeing from Webb. The future of the rotation after 2021 is up in the air, but the righty is pitching like someone who will have a meaningful role for the foreseeable future.