Mookie Betts had two singles off Logan Webb in Game 1 of the National League Division and three more in Game 5, accounting for more than half of the hits the Los Angeles Dodgers got against Webb in two brilliant performances for the Giants. It was notable, then, when Betts mentioned after Game 5 that he was happy to see Webb finally leave that game.
"Once we were able to get him out, I can't say it got any easier, but I think everybody kind of was like, 'Finally.' You know?" Betts said last Thursday night. "That was good. I've definitely got to tip my cap to Logan there."
Up and down the line, the Dodgers praised Webb for completely keeping them in check over his first two postseason appearances, and as the Giants head into an offseason that will bring some big roster changes, they'll do so with the knowledge that they now have an ace to build around. That's not just hopeful thinking after a big second half and two playoff starts, either.
There's nobody in the organization who knows more about how things here have been built than Buster Posey, who ignited the three-title run and still is near the top of his game a decade later. Posey established himself shortly after Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, and he carved his path in the big leagues alongside Madison Bumgarner. When asked how this season could be the start of something similar, Posey said you can build around pitching, and "Webby is a great start."
"His last three starts were as pressure-packed as they could be and he answered the bell every time," Posey said. "I'm excited for him and really excited for the Giants organization just to have a young pitcher like that to build around. He should be really proud of the year he had."
Posey helped guide Webb through it, particularly down the stretch. He was behind the plate as Webb took a shutout into the eight on the final day of the season, when the Giants clinched the division, and then for both postseason starts. But it's unclear at the moment how many of Webb's starts Posey will catch in the future.
The Giants hold a $22 million option on Posey that's a no-brainer to exercise if the sides don't tear it up and agree to a multi-year deal, but as Posey met with the media in the dugout late Thursday night and talked of sitting down with his wife and being a father to four young kids, he didn't sound like someone who has too many more of these types of seasons ahead of him.
Posey's future is the biggest question the Giants need to answer at the start of the offseason, but the fate of the rotation is not far behind. Other than Webb, it was filled with pending free agents.
The Giants cannot put a qualifying offer on Kevin Gausman a second time, and Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Johnny Cueto are also about to be back on the market. The Giants and Gausman have a mutual interest in a long-term deal, and reunions with Wood, DeSclafani, or both would make sense at the right price. After being left off the NLDS roster, it seems a certainty Cueto departs.
The organization's best pitching prospects are in the low minors, but there is hope that someone from the group of Sammy Long, Tyler Beede and Sean Hjelle emerges as an option early next year. If the Giants need more stopgap veterans, they have proven that they are better than anybody at finding them.
What is extremely difficult to do is find an ace, a pitcher you can trust to take the ball in a Game 1 and go up against anybody. The Giants have that in Webb, and as they rebuild the rotation, that's a hell of a start.
"I think he proved that he's a guy you can build a staff around," Posey said. "He enjoys being the guy in the big situation, and ultimately those are the guys that can bring four other guys together and really elevate their games, as well."