Last week, manager Gabe Kapler said Logan Webb was “in the driver’s seat” for the fifth spot in the Giants’ rotation.
But Webb’s standing appeared to shift when the Giants agreed to terms on a one-year, $4 million contract with fellow right-hander Aaron Sanchez, whose addition has not yet been announced by the club. With five veteran starters -- Kevin Gausman, Johnny Cueto, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Sanchez -- now ahead of him on the depth chart, Webb could find himself as the odd man out in the rotation, though the 24-year-old said he can’t get too caught up in the potential numbers game this spring.
“I’ve just got to come in here, be healthy, look and move well and just show the work I put in this offseason,” Webb said Friday during a Zoom call with reporters. “Show what I can do. Everything else is kind of out of my control. Other than that, just come in here and be prepared to compete with anybody.”
Kapler has deferred comment on the updated rotation outlook until Sanchez’s deal becomes official, though he didn’t rule out the possibility that Webb could start the season at Triple-A Sacramento.
“I think everything's on the table,” Kapler said. “Logan Webb has made really good improvements so far leading up to camp, and now he's just continuing to show that he's going to be a better pitcher than he was last year. And you know what? He was pretty good for us at times last year. This is just a matter of consistency.”
Webb found himself in a similarly uncertain spot last spring, when he was expected to compete with Tyler Beede for the fifth spot in the Giants’ rotation. Beede ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery in March, clearing a path for Webb to become a regular member of the rotation once the pandemic-shortened regular season started in July.
The results were underwhelming, though, as Webb logged a 5.47 ERA over 54 1/3 innings and struggled to consistently pitch deep into games.
“You guys know me, I’m pretty hard on myself,” Webb said. “I was pretty frustrated with how that season went. I know there were some bright starts and appearances, but it's my job, my goal, to be consistent with that. Get those numbers down and be able to come out every fifth or sixth day and be able to succeed and do what I'm supposed to do instead of being a little inconsistent last year. It was just overall a little frustrating, but I can't dwell on that. I’ve just got to get back to doing what I do.”
Webb spent the offseason training in Arizona, where he split his workouts between the Giants’ facility in Scottsdale and Push Performance in Tempe. His catch partner for the first couple months was veteran reliever Sean Doolittle, another Push Performance client who signed a one-year deal with the Reds earlier this month. That experience was a treat for Webb, who grew up in Rocklin, Calif., cheering for A’s teams that featured Doolittle and current Giants pitching coach Andrew Bailey.
“Being an old A's fan, I get to see all these old A’s guys and kind of pick their brains about everything,” Webb said. “It was just cool to talk to him about his experiences. It was cool. It was really fun.”
Webb’s admiration for the former A’s pitchers is a reminder of his youth and the potential for growth he still has as he returns for his second full season with the Giants. One of his goals for this spring is to consistently land his slider and changeup for strikes, which proved challenging as he adjusted to a new arm slot last year. Regardless of where he starts the season, Webb is still viewed as a big piece of San Francisco’s future and he should figure prominently into the rotation mix for 2021.
“With guys like Logan Webb, it's just a lot of practice throwing those secondary weapons,” Kapler said. “We feel strongly that if Logan is able to throw his changeup -- all of his offspeed pitches, but specifically his changeup -- for a strike consistently, he's a Major League-caliber starter that can help us win a lot of games.”
Moronta back in action
Giants reliever Reyes Moronta threw a bullpen session at Scottsdale Stadium on Friday and said he feels healthy after completing his rehab from right shoulder surgery. Moronta, 28, came close to returning from the September 2019 surgery at the end of last season, but the Giants decided it would be in his best interest to be held back.
“It was a slow process,” Moronta said in Spanish. “I wanted to make it back, but at the same time, the team didn’t want to rush me to the Majors so that I could be more ready for this year.”
Before the surgery, Moronta established himself as a key cog in San Francisco’s bullpen, recording a 2.66 ERA over his first three seasons in the Majors. With an upper-90s fastball and a wipeout slider, Moronta profiles as a potential closer candidate if he shows that he’s back to his old self this spring.
Over the offseason, Kapler challenged Moronta to come into spring in the best shape possible, though Moronta acknowledged that he’s still working on improving his overall fitness.
“I feel good where I’m at right now,” said Moronta, who is listed at 5-foot-10, 265 pounds. “But truthfully, the trainer has also told me that if I lose more weight, it’ll help me perform better. It’s not good to be overweight, especially when you’re being relied on to close out games and you can’t because you’re exhausted, or you tire too quickly. I feel good where I’m at, and I want to keep working hard.”
• Beede threw his third bullpen session of the spring on Friday and sat in the low 90s with his fastball, according to Kapler. The Giants are hoping he’ll become a rotation option at some point in May.
• Catcher Curt Casali has been limited early in camp after undergoing surgery to remove the hamate bone in his left hand in December, but the Giants are confident that he’ll be ready for Opening Day. Casali signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal this offseason and is expected to serve as Buster Posey’s backup.