Giants

How 'taxi squad' term originated, what it means for 2020 MLB season

How 'taxi squad' term originated, what it means for 2020 MLB season

We hear the term “taxi squad” every year around baseball time however, with the 60-game season being implemented, it appears will be said a bit more than usual in 2020.

This MLB season, it’ll be a bit different -- just like everything else due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For the 2020 season, each team will get a three-player taxi squad for road trips. This will help give the teams quick options should a player get injured or test positive for COVID-19. Those players are from the original 60-player pool implemented by each team. 

The main reason to have this squad is to avoid the situation of putting a player on a commercial flight when needed.

The taxi squad must have at least one catcher. The other two players could be pitchers or position players. These guys will be working out with the team on the road, and the catcher will also be able to serve as the bullpen catcher.

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That’s how it’ll go down this upcoming season, but how did the term "taxi squad" come to be?

The term actually was coined by the Cleveland Browns in the 1940s. 

Coach Paul Brown invented it when he wanted to keep a group of promising players who didn’t make the roster. He didn’t want to get rid of them completely, so owner Arthur McBride put them on the payroll of the taxi company that he owned. Alas, the term “taxi squad” was born and would ultimately be adopted by the NFL. 

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Essentially, it’s become a group of players that are signed by a team, but not on the roster. 

It’s especially important for football since, unlike baseball, there isn’t a minor league system. The NFL has adopted the "Practice Squad" from this concept, and now that we know there isn’t a Minor League Baseball season, it will be much more prevalent in MLB this season.

Giants' Logan Webb continues hot start, becomes first starter to win

Giants' Logan Webb continues hot start, becomes first starter to win

Somewhere along the line, people stopped talking about Logan Webb.

The Giants' summer camp was dominated by glimpses of Joey Bart, Marco Luciano and other top prospects. Their first couple of weeks have mostly been about Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano, with the rest of the attention being soaked up by sloppy defense and interesting pitching decisions. 

Webb has gone under the radar through two camps and two weeks of the season. But he seems like he's Gabe Kapler's most consistent starter through three starts, and Webb's doing this at just 23 years of age. 

Webb went into Coors Field for the first time and allowed one earned run over five-plus innings, leading the Giants to a 4-3 win that snapped a three-game skid. In three starts, Webb has allowed three earned runs. He has pitched after a loss all three times, and the Giants are 3-0. 

"I think last year when we had Buster (Posey) and Vogter (Stephen Vogt) that's one thing they preached, is pitch a winner," Webb said. "Even if that doesn't go the way you wanted. When you pitch a winner, that's the main thing. That's how I go into every start."

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Webb's start to his second year has been solid but has one notable flaw.

He has thrown just 12 2/3 innings so far this season, which partly has to do with some long innings he has had and partly has to do with a coaching staff that is being hyper-cautious early on. It has been rare this season that a Giants starter even goes deep enough to qualify for a win, and Webb became the first to actually get one.

According to the Giants, this is the first time since at least 1901 that they had no wins from starters over the first dozen games. 

"I still think he felt like he has more in the tank, and you know what, we feel like he has more in the tank," Kapler said. "He's done a really good job of maintaining his stuff. The movement on his changeup has been great, the fastball has had life, and now we just have to tighten up his command even a little bit more, and when he does that he's really capable of going deep into games like some of the better pitchers in the league."

Webb threw just 68 pitches Wednesday, 50 of which were strikes. But as he took the mound in the sixth with a 4-2 lead, he knew he had to keep it clean to keep going. When Tony Wolters opened the inning by lining a fastball into left, Webb was visibly frustrated. He was pulled right away. 

Webb said he was similarly mad that he couldn't last longer in his first two outings, when he was scheduled to go five-plus each time. He worked on adjustments in the bullpen a couple days ago, continuing the theme of his offseason. 

Webb reshaped some of his pitches with the new coaching staff and added a cutter, which he is mixing in more and more. Over time it should be a good weapon for him, particularly against lefties, keeping them off his mid-90s fastball. On this night, he did just enough to help lead the Giants to a needed win, with Brandon Belt providing the punch with a three-run homer and Trevor Gott closing it down in the ninth. 

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A pitcher can't ask for much more than a win at Coors -- "you hear all the horror stories about here," Webb said -- and this one continued an underrated start, one that has a clear next goal. Webb is getting results, now he wants to get them over more innings. 

"I don't feel cautious for Logan's health with respect to pushing him into the nineties (with his pitch count). I think he's been pretty built up," Kapler said. "But one of the messages that we want to stay consistent in sending to our pitchers is that putting up zeroes for as long as you possibly can is really what your job is. Limiting damage is really what your job is. Limiting damage for as long as you have the ball is really how you help the Giants win."

Thus far, nobody on the staff has done that better than the youngest starter. 

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 4-3 win vs. Rockies

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 4-3 win vs. Rockies

BOX SCORE

For much of their recent homestand at Oracle Park, it looked like the Giants were playing games at Coors Field. The scores have been a bit more normal at the actual Coors Field, and that favored the Giants on Wednesday.

Logan Webb had a solid start, the bullpen did a nice job of holding the Colorado Rockies down and Brandon Belt provided all the necessary offense with a blast to right. It all added up to a 4-3 win over the Rockies that snapped a three-game skid.

Here are three things you need to know about the Giants' third road win this season ...

Promising Rookie

He's not going that deep into games yet, but quietly, Webb has been the staff's most effective starter. Webb went five innings, allowing two runs -- just one earned -- on four hits. He struck out four.

Webb has a 2.13 ERA through three starts, although he has pitched just 12 2/3 innings. The Giants are going to be understandably cautious with the 23-year-old, who should be a part of the rotation for years to come, but they have to like what they're seeing. Webb hit 96 mph with his fastball and had the Rockies off balance with a changeup, slider and cutter.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

#belted

Belt turned a two-run deficit into a one-run lead with one swing of the bat off Jon Gray, a pitcher he has always seen well. The three-run homer to right was Belt's first of the year and his second off Gray. Belt is 10-for-24 in his career off the hard-throwing right-hander.

Belt later added a long double, giving him 232 for his career. That ties him with Rich Aurilia for ninth on the franchise list. Next up is teammate Pablo Sandoval, who has 234 career doubles.

[RELATED: Despite slump, Panda's recent swings are impressing Kapler]

Another One

The first run scored off Webb was a frustrating one. Donovan Solano booted a grounder to short while playing in the shift, putting the first batter of the night on base. A wild pitch sent David Dahl to second and he scored on a single.

The error was the 17th of the year for the Giants, who lead the majors and are one of just two NL teams in double-digits. This is the first time since 2012 that they've made 16 or more errors this early in the season. Solano has been a little iffy defensively, but he has a 10-game hitting streak, so he's making up for it on the other end.