We’re well into the Ws in our San Francisco Giants season reviews, which brings us to one of the best stories in a year full of them: right-handed starting pitcher Logan Webb.
27 games (26 starts), 148.1 innings, 3.03 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 1.106 WHIP, 158 strikeouts, 36 walks, 3.9 rWAR, 4.1 fWAR
I’ve written season reviews for Logan Webb on this website (Webbsite?) in all three of his years since making the Majors.
Let’s ... err ... review some of the reviews.
This was my headline in 2019:
Logan Webb was electric, albeit mediocre
In it, I said things like, “Logan Webb may never be a good pitcher,” and “Webb wasn’t very good last year.”
I also said things like, “If you wanted to say that Webb has shown the most electric pitches (at the Major League level) of any Giants prospect since Madison Bumgarner, I wouldn’t stop you,” and “He’s got the total package.”
I even threw in the grammatically sensational compliment that, “But he exciting.”
A year later, after a 2020 season in which Webb had almost exactly replicated his 2019 performance, I found myself in a similar place, albeit with even more difficulty arriving at any type of reasonable analysis.
I said confused things, like, “I have no idea how to evaluate Webb’s second MLB season,” and “He looked like a prospect trying to figure some things out and hey, what do you know, that’s exactly what he is.”
I said pessimistic things, like, “On the one hand, Webb’s ERA lagging behind his FIP suggests that he’s a better pitcher than the results would indicate. On the other hand, we now have a two-year sample of Webb’s ERA being well over a run behind his FIP, so maybe that’s just who he is: the reverse Matt Cain,” which I countered with optimistic things, like, “On the other other hand, he still hasn’t even pitched 100 MLB innings, so it’s probably way too small of a sample size to make that assumption.”
I concluded with this guess about his role in 2021: “Webb will certainly pitch a lot this year, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s a mix of starts, relief appearances, and developmental time in AAA.”
And now here we are, with the 2021 season in the rear view mirror (and, unfortunately, the 2022 season not in the front view mirror [that’s not what those are called!], but that’s a different story for a different day [specifically, it was a story for Tuesday]), and it seems that we know what Webb is.
An ace. The ace.
It’s easy to forget, given where he ended the year, that Webb didn’t start the season strong — or even as a presumed staple of the rotation. He made two early starts only because of injuries, as the team otherwise would have had a rotation of Kevin Gausman, Johnny Cueto, Anthony DeSclafani, Aaron Sanchez, and Alex Wood. He wasn’t good in those two starts, with a collective line of 10.1 innings, 15 hits, 5 walks, 6 earned runs, and 11 strikeouts.
When the rotation became healthy, Webb briefly moved to the bullpen, but just as quickly returned to the rotation as more injuries struck.
In a repeat of his 2019 and 2020 performances, he mixed dazzling results with brutal outings. His got shellacked in his return to the rotation, allowing four runs in as many innings. He responded with seven scoreless innings in his next start, then gave up nine runs in his next two starts combined.
And then it clicked. All the optimistic things I said in 2019 and 2020 gelled like some glorious marinade, and Webb hit his stride, found his groove, made the magic, and any other manner of cliched expressions. All at once.
Starting with a May 11 appearance, Webb pitched 14 straight games (sandwiched around an injury) without allowing multiple earned runs. During that time he pitched 80.1 innings and allowed 56 hits, 16 walks, and 13 earned runs, while striking out 88, good for a 1.46 ERA and 2.54 FIP. The team went 13-1 when he took the mound.
And along the way he became the future. We didn’t know it at the time, but Webb’s battery mate, Buster Posey, and co-ace, Gausman, would play their final game for the Giants in 2021. Webb would, and has been, forced into a role as a franchise cornerstone.
He seems to fit it. The All-Star performance is there (and it’s now when I remind you that, having not turned 25 until after the season ended, and being less than a month older than his new battery mate, Joey Bart, Webb is quite young!), the connection with the fanbase is there, and hell ... even the gifs are there.
But perhaps best of all was how Webb’s season ended. In heartbreak, yes, like the rest of the Giants, but also with dominance against one of the best teams ever constructed. Webb pitched twice in the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, opening and closing the five-game series.
Here was his line: 14.2 innings, 9 hits, 1 walk, 1 earned run, 17 strikeouts.
His future is bright. And, by virtue, the team’s is.
Role in 2022
Barring a very unlikely trade for an ace, or an even more unlikely signing of free agent Clayton Kershaw (which the Giants should totally do), Webb will open 2022 as the unquestioned No. 1 starter in the Giants rotation.
And he’s earned it.
How do you grade Logan Webb’s season?
F (hi, troll)