How SF Giants ace Logan Webb is even better in 2023

How SF Giants ace Logan Webb is even better in 2023

SAN FRANCISCO — The same approach that haunted Logan Webb earlier in the season is starting to pay dividends over his last four starts, when he’s once again looking like one of the best starting pitchers in the game.

Webb is playing good old fashioned hardball.

He’s challenging hitters with his best stuff and attacking them without hesitation. Of the 75 qualified starters in MLB this year, Webb is sixth in first-strike percentage (71%) and tied for sixth in total strike percentage (68%). Both numbers are up from his career averages of 65% in both categories.

“That’s something we identified for Webb as a way to be even better than he has been in the past,” said Giants manager Gabe Kapler. “It’s also just our general pitching philosophy.”

His relentless approach was hard to ignore in the Giants’ 4-1 win over the Nationals on Tuesday night. He threw 81 strikes on 105 pitches, marking the first time in his career he’s thrown at least 80 strikes and the first time a Giants pitcher threw 80 strikes since Madison Bumgarner in 2018.

“Just throwing strikes, attacking guys and hoping for the best,” he said.

The aggression backfired early in the year, when the sinkerballer was suddenly getting burned by the long ball. He allowed eight home runs in eight starts, tied for 11th-most in the big leagues. Overall, he’s 3-5 with a 3.46 ERA thus far.

“It was weird, this is the best I’ve ever felt to start a season,” he said. “Even though these outings I wasn’t necessarily pitching well, I felt like I was the same pitcher. The home runs have gotten me this year. Hopefully this can start a trend of not giving up as many.”

Across MLB, there have been only four games this season in which a starter has thrown 80 strikes, and in all four the pitcher went at least seven innings while allowing no more than two runs.

The idea that getting beat in the zone is better than walking guys or falling behind in counts “is just the philosophy we have for our pitchers in general, which is that their stuff is good enough,” Kapler said.

“In Logan’s case, he’s got three plus major league pitches. His changeup was really nasty, especially nasty (Tuesday). And we believe good process metrics, first-pitch strike percentage, overall strike percentage, zone rate, swing and miss rate in the zone – those lead to good performances.”

Overall, the Giants are tied for fourth in MLB with a 65% strike rate this year.

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