Just one day prior to writing this article, I penned a very silly piece, titled What will the Giants do with their early season extra roster spot? It remains a valid question, but the article was silly because I painted the Giants as having an option: include Logan Webb on the Opening Day roster, or don’t include Logan Webb on the Opening Day roster.
The Giants do not have that option. Logan Webb needs to be on the Opening Day roster.
In between those two articles, Webb took the mound for his first extended start of Spring Training. He pitched 5 innings and gave up a single baserunner — a single — while striking out 7.
That brings Webb’s glistening spring line to this lovely destination: 11 innings, 3 hits, 1 walk, 0 runs, 17 strikeouts.
Now, Webb will likely make one more start before the season ends, and there’s a chance he makes me look silly again by giving up a plethora of dingers. But I’m just going to assume that doesn’t happen, and he enters the regular season as the clear team MVP of Spring Training.
It goes without saying that Spring Training is a time built on performances, good and bad, that are in no way indicative of how a player is going to perform during the regular season. And it’s pretty easy to find impressive Cactus League showings, like, just to pick one of a million from the tab I happen to have open, Josh Osich allowing 6 hits, 3 walks, and 0 runs in 11 innings while striking out 16 in 2018.
That said, in the last 10 Spring Trainings, the Giants have only had six other occurrences of a pitcher striking out at least 17 batters while maintaining an ERA below 3.00. Four of those instances were Madison Bumgarner, one was Matt Cain, and one was Barry Zito. I feel like I’m simultaneously pointing out how special Webb’s spring is, and how meaningless it might be.
But while Webb’s Cactus League dominance may not be entirely predictive, it has served to cement his spot on the team. It’s hard to imagine the Giants omitting him from the Opening Day roster. It’s hard to imagine them relegating him to a life of long relief while they ride mediocre veterans in the rotation. It’s hard to imagine the organization being anything other than tickled pink at the idea of Webb being part of the team for years to come.
As a reminder, Webb only turned 24 in November. He’s just one month older than Joey Bart. It’s easy to look at his modest results in 2019 and 2020 and dismiss his chances going forward.
This spring is a pretty strong reminder that maybe, just maybe, there’s a high quality starting pitcher in that right arm.