Beede started for San Francisco and fired two scoreless innings, walking one and striking out two while topping out at 98 mph with his fastball. Webb followed Beede in the third and gave up one run on three hits over two innings.
Beede, 26, posted a 5.08 ERA over 117 innings in the Majors last season, but the Giants remain confident that he possesses the weapons to develop into a front-line starter. He certainly looked dominant on Thursday, using a curveball to strike out J.P. Crawford in the first inning and a changeup to whiff Jarred Kelenic in the second.
“I was expecting to be a little bit more sped up,” Beede said. “My goal was to just slow things down as best I could with deep breaths. Just trying to stay in the moment, pitch to pitch. I was just happy with the way I was able to keep the game slow in my mind and execute pitches when I needed to.”
One of the directives for Beede this spring is to stick with his premium offspeed pitches -- his changeup and curveball -- even if he doesn’t have an early feel for them in games. Beede threw his fastball 56.1 percent of the time in 2019 -- compared to 18.6 percent for his changeup and 13.7 percent for his curveball -- but he plans to alter his pitch mix this year by relying less on his fastball and mixing in more of his offspeed pitches.
“Curveball and changeup are my most effective pitches just based on the numbers,” Beede explained. “When I threw them last year, they were very successful pitches for me, so it's just a matter of upping the usage and trusting them in counts that I wasn’t throwing those pitches in last year to get the hitters off-balance, which is the name of the game for the guy on the mound.”
Webb, 23, spent the offseason working with new director of pitching Brian Bannister, who suggested Webb add a cutter to his repertoire as well as increase the sweep of his slider. Webb said he is still working to refine his cutter, though he’s been pleased with the progress so far.
“I already kind of cut the ball a little bit, so the last couple of years, there’s always been times during the season where I’ve tried to throw a cutter and I just couldn’t really get it down,” Webb said. “Banny and them came in and kind of showed me how to throw it, where they want my hand. It’s coming along. I feel like I was throwing everything that was going arm-side, and it’s something hard that I can throw glove-side.”
Webb logged a 5.22 ERA over 39 2/3 innings in eight starts with the Giants last year, but he is expected to be on an innings limit this season, which could give Beede an edge in the battle for the final rotation spot this spring. Webb’s workload was limited in 2019, when he drew an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, so the Giants could opt to start him at Triple-A Sacramento to more easily manage his innings earlier in the season.
“I wouldn’t say I’m either happy or mad about it,” Webb said. “I’m kind of right inbetween. I understand it. I’m going to do my best just to show that I can pitch every five days in the spring and keep doing that throughout the season. I would say that’s my main goal. Being able to throw six, seven innings every five days.”
Beede, for his part, said he’s open to pitching in whatever role he’s asked, though he acknowledged that he views himself as part of the starting staff and hopes to have the opportunity to establish himself as a reliable arm for the Giants in 2020.
“We’re all going to contribute at some point this year, but I do see myself as part of that group,” Beede said. “I’m confident in my ability to be a guy that the team can depend on, whether it’s in the fifth spot or bullpen. It’s not up to me, but with the things that I can control, I set high expectations of myself and I want to be the guy that the team can depend on throughout the season.”
The Giants will play split-squad games on Friday, with Dereck Rodríguez starting a road game against the Royals at 12:05 p.m. PT at Surprise Stadium before Johnny Cueto takes the mound at home against the Rockies at 6:05 p.m. PT at Scottsdale Stadium. Pablo Sandoval, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, is also expected to make his Cactus League debut and serve as the designated hitter against the Rockies.