Earlier this afternoon, Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News reported that a source told him Logan Webb, the Giants’ top pitching prospect, would make his major league debut this Saturday in Arizona. Just a few minutes ago, Alex Pavlovic reported that Webb has arrived in Arizona, all but confirming Crowley’s report.
The team hasn’t said anything yet, although earlier in the week, Farhan Zaidi was on KNBR talking about this exact scenario, so, really, this should come as no surprise. On the other hand, consider everything that’s led to this call-up: Logan Webb has been in the Giants’ system since he was 17 years old. They drafted him in the 4th round of the 2014 draft. He did not appear in Pipeline’s top 30 for the Giants’ system until 2018, after he’d already thrown 238.2 innings of pro ball across five seasons. His ascent through the system was less a matter of age and more a matter of performance and injury. He had a 5.34 ERA from 2014-2016 before needing Tommy John surgery.
He’d return from the surgery in 2017, and you can see a bright line separating the two parts of his pro career. Post-Tommy John, he’s posted a 2.30 ERA across 196 innings, including the seven shutout innings he pitched in what for now will be his sole start at Triple-A:
Logan Webb used a well spotted 94-95 mph fb and devilish breaker to rack up 7 Ks in AAA debut pic.twitter.com/f1Xu8W2KRo— Roger Munter (@rog61) August 13, 2019
With Saturday’s debut, he will have appeared in every level of the Giants’ system this year. Why was he in A-ball and the rookie leagues? Maybe you had forgotten this, but he was suspended 80-games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. The most notable part of this was his insistence that it was an accident:
For the past month and a half, I have tried endlessly to find the answer to why the M4 metabolite was found in my urine sample.
However it got there, the suspension makes him ineligible for the postseason, should the Giants pull off a minor miracle and get that far. The greater miracle might be simply performing at a major league level. I see maybe just a little bit of Matt Cain in Webb just from that grainy video Roger tweeted out earlier in the week.
Pipeline’s scouting report makes it even more difficult for me to shake the comparison, as unfair as it is:
Webb announced he was fully back when his fastball hit 98 mph at the outset of Spring Training a year ago, a prelude to sitting at 93-96 with heavy life throughout the 2018 season. He has a second plus pitch in his power breaking ball, which has slider velocity at 82-85 mph with curveball depth. His changeup isn’t as advanced, however, as it gets too firm at times and must improve so he can better handle left-handers.
Cain was two years younger than Webb when he made his debut, a 5-inning, 2-run loss to the Rockies in San Francisco. The Giants managed one run, setting the precedent for future Cainings. Cain would make six more starts in 2005, all in September. His third start was a complete game.
Unlike Cain, Webb is stepping into a tense situation: the Giants have a hole in their rotation and really do need quality starts down the stretch. It’s Bruce Bochy’s final season. Arizona is a great place to hit.
The Giants don’t need a Wall of Famer from start one, though, they just need a strike thrower who can avoid big innings. Since Tommy John, he’s struck out 169 and walked just 62 and allowed just 8 home runs, good for a 1.21 WHIP. Given my personal feelings on what the Giants actually need, Webb is the best they’ve got.
Good luck, kid.