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New Year’s resolutions: Logan Webb edition

May 2023 be a year of great skill and craft for you Mr. Webb

MLB: Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the new year, and the perfect time to write one’s hopes and goals into the internet’s ether. I came up with some possible 2023 resolutions for Giants players earlier in the week, from Thairo Estrada stealing 30 bases and Mike Yastrzemski keeping his May mustache for the entire season.

Here’s with three more regarding San Francisco’s returning ace.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Oakland Athletics Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

1. Logan Webb: Pitch 200 innings

In his 20 years as a starter, Gaylord Perry threw more than 200 innings in a season 18 times. He threw over 300 innings six times in seven seasons. Did you know 1983 was four decades ago and 1963 was two more decades earlier than that? Time has passed—baseball has changed. The modern bullpen and reliever usage has taken a sizable chunk out of the starter’s workload. In 2022 A.D., only eight pitchers across the Major Leagues cracked the 200 inning mark. It used to be a floor, an orange shag carpet, now it’s a ceiling. Different functions architecturally—both important.

Over 32 starts, Logan Webb threw 192.1 innings last season, good for 12th highest in baseball. He averaged about 6 innings each appearance and pitched through the 8th four times, missing only one start in 2022—his last of the season—after the Giants were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in early October.

Sandy Alcántara, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, led the Majors with 228.2 innings pitched over 32 games—though he threw 6 complete games and averaged over 7 innings of work a start.

Webb does not need to throw 6 complete games in 2023 to log 200 innings. If the Giants were chasing a playoff berth and he was firing on all cylinders—he threw 7 against the Padres in game 162 to seal the division in ‘21—the milestone could’ve been reached.

Webb does not need to throw 200 innings period to be the ace of the 2023 San Francisco Giants (actual period). Julio Urias, the Dodgers’ rotation peak who came 3rd in Cy Young balloting, threw 175. Game situations, bullpen depth, injuries, postseason odds—there are a lot of variables that can chip into a starter’s inning total other than the quality of their pitching.

Still, 200 is a feather in one’s cap. Logan Webb seems to be a pretty competitive person who would want to own the most feathery cap there is. A season is made up of innings and someone has got to throw them. The least complicated it is, the better.

2. Logan Webb: Bag 200 strikeouts

Over his 192 innings, Webb struck out 163 batters, good for 20th in the National League. His K-ra is in the 35th percentage. Color-coded that is a whitish watery blue, kind of like what an M&M looks like when you take it out of your mouth after you’ve sucked on it for ten seconds.

He’d need to strike out 37 more batters to reach 200. At his season rate, he’d need four or five more starts to reach the mark. A lofty goal for someone like Webb who pitches more off feel than a rear-back and snarl fastball. One-third sinker, one-third slider and one-third change-up, Webb relies on a deceptive arm action to coax movement from the ball and fool the hitter into spitting on pitches darting late into the zone or swinging at pitches diving out of it. A sinker’s or change-up’s downward spin makes them heavy and dull. They come off the bat like rocks destined for the earth. Contact is la-di-da for Webb as long as his pitches are down.

Based on last season’s numbers, yes, 200 strikeouts feels far off. But in 2021 he wasn’t a more effective pitcher, just a different one.

In 148.1 innings, he struck out 5 fewer batters than he did in ‘22 in 44 fewer innings. In 2021, he struck out 2 more batters per 9 innings than he did in ‘22 (9.6 in ‘21 and 7.6 in ‘22). On Baseball Savant, his K%, Whiff%, and Chase Rate all turn from healthy, fresh out of the bag red M&Ms in 2021 to watered down chocolate discs in ‘22.

Maybe he wasn’t as effective at teasing the zone as he once was; maybe he didn’t mix his pitches as well without Buster Posey behind the plate; maybe the league got more familiar with him; maybe—most likely—it’s a combination of all three.

Webb doesn’t need to pitch 200 innings and he doesn’t need to strike out 200 batters to be effective. Neither happened in 2022, but based on recent history and how Webb’s career is trending, both benchmarks seem attainable.

3. Front Office: Lock-up Logan Webb

Logan Webb turned 26 years old in November. He’s pitched at the Major League level since 2019, and his workload has grown in each season of play. He was a significant part of the final push for the 2021 division title and started both games 1 and 5 in the division series against the Dodgers, throwing 14.2 innings of 1 run baseball while striking out 19 and leaving Cody Bellinger in a inarticulate daze of sexual confusion.

In 2022, Webb was 9th in the National League in pitching WAR (Baseball Reference) and 11th in Cy Young voting. He’s the last pitcher to hit a home run in a San Francisco uniform, a local, homegrown (drafted in 2014) talent, with one Opening Day start already to his name, and he kind of looks like Matt Cain to me with Sergio Romo type movement.

Webb is arbitration eligible and proven. He’s not young young—Cain had thrown 200 innings in a season four times by the time he turned 26—but he’s durable. His style doesn’t rely on power and ground ball pitchers typically age well (Alex Cobb just turned 35). He’s the present and future of the organization if the front office wants him to be.

It seems “obvious” to Alex Pavlovic that the Giants’ suits should extend Webb’s contract this year and I agree. An excellent (and attainable) new year’s resolution for the front office: show interest and excitement, engage the conversation, maintain transparency, and give the man some money!

It makes perfect sense from a quality of play standpoint—Webb is a deserving talent—as well as from a public relations perspective. A long term deal would be a gesture of goodwill to a souring fan base after we got Judge spurned; Rodón turned SF’s friendly short term deal with options into a seven year jackpot with the Yankees; the Correa fiasco being a certfiable fiasco—and people still haven’t forgotten about Kevin Gausman’s departure (neither has Webb apparently).

Webb is relatively young, known and developed by the organization, plays hard, wants to win, and is eager to stay (I’d imagine)—but he’s also intelligent enough not to be jerked around. The Atlanta Braves are setting some exciting precedent around offering talented players long term deals before they’ve hit free agency. Webb knows his worth and the front office shouldn’t dilly-dally, beat around the bush, or play coy.

Make something happen!