When the Giants filled out their rotation with veterans, adding two before camp and Aaron Sanchez after it had already started, Logan Webb said he wasn't worried about being blocked off, but rather would view spring training as a great opportunity to learn. A month later, he looks poised to start the season right alongside those veterans.
Webb has been the star of the spring for the Giants, putting up unmatched numbers in four appearances. With five more zeros put up Tuesday, Webb has posted 11 shutout innings this spring, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out 17. With Alex Wood making his way back from a minor back procedure, Webb should start the year in the rotation. It's an opportunity he has more than earned over the past month.
"He's having a great spring," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We had asked him to really gain command of his changeup by using it a lot, both in his bullpen sessions prior to the game and his live BPs and in-game, and what we've found is that he's just getting better and better control and command of the pitch."
The changeup is a pitch Kapler has been talking about since the end of last year, and there has been a huge emphasis on having Webb throw it more often this spring. He used it 30 percent of the time last year with pretty good results -- hitters had a .230 average against it -- but the Giants believe it can be one of the best off-speed pitches in the game and want Webb to feature it above the rest of his arsenal. The early returns are promising.
Backup catcher Curt Casali said he approached Webb earlier in camp and told him the changeup rivaled the one thrown by a former teammate known for having perhaps baseball's best changeup.
"I had the pleasure of catching Luis Castillo for the past three years in Cincinnati and he's got probably one of the most devastating changeups and well-known pitches in the game," Casali said. "I saw Logan's changeup for the first time and I told him point-blank that it's just as good, if not better. I think that's got to be good to hear. We're going to use it. If they keep swinging at it, we're going to keep using it. He can be a really, really big piece of our puzzle. We're going to throw that pitch a lot this year."
Webb potentially taking a leap forward is well-timed, and needed. The biggest question mark heading into the season is rotation depth, and if Webb can help solve that in 2021, the Giants will be much better off heading into an offseason in which they should be one of baseball's biggest spenders. They're hopeful that Webb and Tyler Beede can lock up rotation spots heading into the winter, cutting a couple of items off the shopping list.
The 24-year-old Webb said he's not getting ahead of himself, and he's not getting caught up in spring training stat lines. He's focusing on competing and being more consistent, particularly with that changeup, hopeful that he can show that inconsistency the last two seasons is not who he really is.
"My main goal coming into this season was just to kind of show that I am better than what I've shown the last two years and just to kind of try to stay on that," Webb said. "I feel like I've had glimpses of being what I'm capable of, and now it just comes down to being consistent with it. There's so many different things that go into that. I think I'm starting to hone in on that and I'm feeling pretty good about it."