Webb's stellar start nearly gives SF difficult decision

Giants monitoring workload of righty, who took no-hit bid into 6th inning of win

September 22nd, 2022

DENVER -- The Giants had no intention of allowing Logan Webb to pitch past the fifth inning on Wednesday night.

With the 25-year-old right-hander having already set a career high in innings pitched this year (182 entering Wednesday), San Francisco decided to implement a plan to lighten Webb's workload to help preserve his arm down the stretch.

Webb knew he would be on a short leash heading into his start against the Rockies, though his dad, Erik, and reliever Tyler Rogers both brought up an interesting hypothetical prior to the game: “What if you’re through five with 50 pitches and you have a no-hitter?”

“I’m like, 'Dude, first of all, it’s Coors Field,'” Webb said. “'I’m going to give up a hit at some point.'”

For a while, though, Webb was unhittable. He carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning of the Giants’ 6-1 win over the Rockies, creating a bit of a conundrum for manager Gabe Kapler.

“Those are the most challenging moments, right?” Kapler said. “You have a game plan going in. You want to monitor a really important part of your future’s workload. The game plan is somewhere around four or five ups, and you know you’re already getting into the sixth up. The game plan is a certain pitch count, and you’re already getting near that pitch count.

"Trying to balance doing what’s right for the Giants, what’s right for the pitcher, and in this case, Logan accomplishing something very cool and being efficient enough to actually do it.”

Sean Bouchard spared Kapler from potentially having to make a controversial pitching change, lining a single to center field with one out in the sixth to break up Webb’s no-hit bid. Seconds later, Kapler emerged from the dugout to lift Webb, who departed after throwing only 66 pitches.

“He was pitching great,” Kapler said. “He was super efficient. But again, at this point, we’re managing 2022 and ‘23 and beyond.”

Webb, who struck out five and walked none over 5 1/3 scoreless innings, was on board with the plan, though he said he wasn’t sure how the scenario would have played out if he still had a no-hitter intact.

“I don’t know,” Webb said. “The competitor in me would probably say, 'Let me stay in this game.'”

Webb’s brilliant performance was even more impressive considering he went through his entire pregame warm-up routine before being forced to sit through a 65-minute rain delay. He didn’t miss a beat when he finally got a chance to take the mound, retiring the first 11 batters he faced before hitting C.J. Cron on the left hand with two outs in the fourth.

Webb locked back in and got through the next five batters with the help of shortstop Brandon Crawford, who made a fabulous play up the middle to rob Michael Toglia in the fifth.

Kapler had mixed feelings as he watched Webb continue to dominate, knowing that it would be difficult to remove his young ace in the middle of a no-hitter. The Giants had Cole Waites and Alex Young warming in the bullpen at the start of the sixth.

What would Kapler have done if Bouchard hadn’t broken up the no-no?

“I definitely was going to let him get through that inning, and then kind of re-evaluate how many pitches he had,” Kapler said. “What the likelihood was that he was going to get through that entire game. Even that would have made some of us very uncomfortable.”

Webb had previously said his goal was to pitch 200 innings this year, though he’s likely to fall just short of that benchmark now that the Giants are trying to ease up on his workload the rest of the way. Wednesday’s outing leaves him at 187 1/3 innings with two starts to go, but Webb said he understands that he needs to look at the bigger picture and ensure his body holds up for years to come.

“I’ve got to think about future me,” Webb said. “We had a big goal this year. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that, but it’s a big goal for next year as well. … I am a lot of innings over my previous high. I would love to get to 200, but I want to throw 200 innings for the next 10 years.”