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Webb impresses Nationals' best hitters in return to Giants

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Logan Webb

SAN FRANCISCO -- One by one, the Giants filed up the dugout steps Friday evening showing off the bright City Connect orange jerseys in different ways. Some tried to tone it down, some complemented the jerseys with orange wristbands and shoes, and some opted for the hoodie that you can probably see from the top of the Salesforce Tower. 

They all walked past president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who sat on the dugout bench surrounded by a small group of reporters, wearing a checkered button-down and a seemingly permanent smile. 

Zaidi has a lot to be excited and proud about these days, but there's still one concern he has about the second half. He has always worried that the Giants won't have enough starting pitching to get through this season, and he said that remains at the front of his mind. 

"That's going to be an ongoing concern for us," Zaidi said. "When you're in a competitive division like we are, you just want somebody out there on the mound every day that you feel gives you a chance to win."

The Giants have had that for most of the first half, and they took another step forward on Friday night. Logan Webb returned to the mound for the first time since May 29 and looked dominant in three innings, setting the Giants off on the right foot in a 5-3 win over the Washington Nationals. 

 

Webb was on a pitch count because this essentially was a rehab start at the big league level, but he made the most of his three innings. He struck out four of the 11 batters he faced and allowed just one hit. He was so locked in that Nationals shortstop Trea Turner, one of the best players in the National League, turned to catcher Curt Casali after Webb departed. He had a question. 

"Why did you guys take that guy out?" Turner asked.

The hitters will tell you how your stuff is playing, and on this night the two best on the other side came away impressed. After Turner reached on an error in the first, Webb threw a nasty sinker to strike out Juan Soto. 

"Honestly, looking back at the video of it, that's probably the best sinker I've ever thrown," Webb said. "It was fun facing him."

It was no fun to be on the other side, and that's been the case most of this season for opponents of this starting staff. Kevin Gausman is an All-Star, Anthony DeSclafani made a strong case, and Alex Wood is throwing like he was when he made an All-Star team as a Dodger. Johnny Cueto has been inconsistent, but his highs have been pretty high. 

Webb joined the party by winning a job in the spring, but he fought his own bouts with inconsistency early on. Just when it seemed he was turning a corner, the shoulder flared up. 

If Webb is throwing like this in the second half, the Giants will be in pretty good shape in the NL West race. Their two closest rivals are desperate for more starting pitching, and that has reinforced Zaidi's own beliefs about the importance of depth. Tyler Beede could be an option, and Sammy Long and Aaron Sanchez are working their way back, but Zaidi will make plenty of calls before the July 30 deadline. 

The Giants were thrilled with what they saw from Webb on Friday, but manager Gabe Kapler took a cautious tone. 

"It's a little premature to kind of bank on the three-inning outing turning into six- and seven-inning outings, but when Logan is at his best and he's attacking the strike zone and utilizing all his pitches effectively, he's a great weapon for us," Kapler said. 

The Giants backed Webb with seven relievers and defense that Kapler said won the game for them, but they'll need Webb to get his pitch count up, and it's unclear what the immediate next step is. His rehab assignment was halted to bring him up for this start, and the Giants are off most of next week and then likely will return to the top of their rotation. Webb smiled when asked how, or where, he would get his work in.

"I know about as much as you do," he said on a Zoom call with reporters. 

 
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The Giants have some time to figure all of that out, and to make sure Webb gets closer to 100 percent before he takes the mound again. This was a great start, though.

"I've been itching to get back for a while now," Webb said. "When they called me and were like, 'How do you feel about throwing on Friday?' I was like, 'Heck yeah!' I've been waiting for this for a while."

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