The Giants are entering a season that will revolve around thirty-somethings and looking to a future that will be decided by guys who are currently teenagers or just barely old enough to order a drink. But in the middle, there are players who will be part of both situations, the 2021 season as well as the end of the rebuild.
It's easy to forget about them sometimes, to forget how young and inexperienced some of the current Giants still are. And then they sit in front of the Zoom camera and provide a funny reminder.
That was the case Friday, when Logan Webb talked about how cool it was to prepare this offseason with former A's closer Sean Doolittle. The 34-year-old Reds left-hander was a workout and catch partner for Webb, who grew up in Rocklin rooting for A's teams that included Doolittle and current Giants pitching coach Andrew Bailey.
"I know Bailey was texting him all offseason checking in on me instead of texting me to ask how I'm doing," Webb said, smiling.
Webb, just 24, went through those workouts as the Giants seemingly filled their rotation with Kevin Gausman, Alex Wood, Anthony DeSclafani and finally Aaron Sanchez. But he hasn't been pushed to the side. Before the Sanchez deal, manager Gabe Kapler said Webb was in the driver's seat for the fifth starter spot, and the Giants still view Webb as a potentially big part of their future. Kapler has kept a close eye on his bullpen sessions in recent weeks and said earlier this week that Webb "looked great" his latest time off a mound.
"He's been solid for quite some time now," Kapler said. "Very consistent."
That last part is the key. Webb has shown flashes of his potential in two seasons, shutting down the Braves and Dodgers late in 2019 and allowing two-or-fewer runs in six of his 11 starts last season. The problem is he hasn't yet shown an ability to consistently get deep into games, and when the 2020 season ended Webb had a 5.47 ERA and low strikeout rate.
"I'm pretty hard on myself. I was pretty frustrated with how that season went," Webb said. "I know there were some bright starts and appearances but it's my job and my goal to be consistent with that and get those numbers down and be able to come out every fifth day and be able to succeed and do what I'm supposed to do instead of being a little inconsistent. It was just overall a little frustrating, but I can't dwell on that."
It wasn't hard for the Giants to pinpoint the areas where Webb needs to improve. Kapler has said repeatedly that Webb's changeup will be his key pitch moving forward, and the Giants want him to do a better job of staying in the strike zone.
It's possible those adjustments will be made in Triple-A early in the season. While Webb was a staple in the rotation last year, the Giants have filled all five spots if everyone leaves Arizona healthy, and with three off days in the first 15 days of the season, they might even have more use for bullpen depth than a fifth starter.
Webb saw the moves that were made but said he's not worrying much about the camp competition, pointing out that he spent all of last season picking the brains of Gausman, Drew Smyly and Tyler Anderson and is looking forward to doing the same with the new class of veterans.
"It's not like I'm looking at them as my enemy or anything like that," he said. "I want these guys to succeed just as much as I want to succeed."
Regardless of what the roster looks like in six weeks, Webb figures to get plenty of starts this summer. The current rotation has upside but also is filled with guys who have a history of health issues or didn't perform in 2020, and the Giants will need Webb and Tyler Beede -- due back from Tommy John in May -- to fill in. They also need them to settle in, because the five current starters will all be free agents after the season and buying a whole new rotation in the winter isn't a great idea. Webb certainly has all the equipment to cross one item off the shopping list.
"At the foundation of describing Logan Webb is just talent, right?" Kapler said. "It's arm speed, it's power, it's a plus changeup and it's a sinker and a cutter mix that leads to a lot of weak contact. I think our pitching coaches are excited about him."