The San Francisco Giants were one of the first teams to name their Opening Day starter for the 2023 season, and in doing so surprised no one, handing Logan Webb that duty. With the Yankees on the schedule for the first series of the year, it’s as good a time as any to cover the first pitcher Aaron Judge and company will face in 2023.
Webb will face the club responsible for ensuring him this Opening Day opportunity. Not that the right-hander isn’t a worthy name to take the bump on the first game or the season, but the Yanks poaching away Carlos Rodón from San Francisco certainly had something to do with it.
Heading into his third full campaign in the big leagues, Webb has firmly established himself as one of the most stable arms in the National League, and the fact San Francisco has let go Kevin Gausman and Rodón in the past couple of off-seasons is one of many testaments to their belief in him.
For all his accomplishments, Webb has yet to make an All-Star Game appearance, and in his time in the big leagues, the Giants haven’t faced the Yankees, so it is understandable if a good portion of the fan base isn’t all that familiar with his game. With that in mind, let’s learn a little bit more about the right-hander, and what makes him successful.
Who is Logan Webb?
As luck would have it, yours truly very recently wrote about Webb for Pitcher List, detailing the changes he made to his arsenal in 2022, and outlining how his K% rate dropped drastically from the prior campaign (26.5 to 20.7). The long and short of it is that Webb’s sinker was more susceptible to hard contact in 2022, due to worse location, particularly against lefties. That prompted him to up his breaking ball usage, pitching to contact with his slider more often. The slider once worked for whiffs changed locations a bit, and became put in play more often, but usually for outs.
All of this allowed Webb to sustain the success he had in 2021, over a larger sample, pitching nearly 200 innings this past season, in spite of the significant dip in strikeouts. Webb’s ERA+ of 139 in 2022 was three points better than his 2021 mark even though he struck out two fewer batters per nine innings.
The Giants’ right-hander has three plus pitches he throws fairly often, in a sinker, slider, and changeup. Once in a blue moon, he will toss in a four-seam fastball, but not with any meaningful frequency.
The changeup is the primary offering against left-handers, while he is mostly a sinker-slider man to righties. The change and slider in particular have generated excellent results the last two years, helping prop up his middling-at-best velocity (he averaged 91.8 mph on the fastball in 2022).
Webb’s pitching profile
Framber Valdez doesn’t really have an equal comp in the big leagues, but the closest thing to him in terms of results is Webb. The Giants’ righty thrives on getting opposing batters to pound the ball into the ground, as his 56.7 percent groundball rate was second in the big leagues, to, you guessed it, Valdez. Neither one of them boasts elite strikeout rates, with Webb’s numbers fluctuating a lot from 2021 to 2022, with the expectation that he settles somewhere in between in 2023.
The advantage Webb has over a name like Valdez in his ability to limit traffic on the bases, particularly in the base-on-balls department. Webb walked only 6.2 percent of batters last season, while Valdez came in at over roughly eight percent, which in it by itself was a vast improvement from the 10.1 percent he had in 2021.
Webb may not be the household name that other arms in the NL West are, like Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Yu Darvish, and even the one-time former Astro, Joe Musgrove, but the Giants ace is certainly capable of dominating any given lineup on a game. He’s not an overpowering opponent, but he will still make for a more than worthy foe for Gerrit Cole and the Yankees on Opening Day.