The Diamondbacks have Webb signed through 2009, and have a no-brainer team
option for 2010. That is, assuming that Webb remains healthy and effective
up until then. The way to do that is to listen to his body when his body
says, "slow down!"
Fortunately for the Diamondbacks, Webb has become a much more efficient
pitcher this year than he had been in years past. This is due mostly to
increased control: fewer walks mean fewer pitches thrown. But strikeouts
are also a factor. Webb has become less reliant on the whiff, and become
more apt to induce a ground out early in the count. Fewer deep counts mean
fewer pitches thrown.
Despite this increased efficiency, Webb has had a busy workload this year.
Because he's so effective, Bob Melvin has let him pitch deeper into ballgames.
In recording an average of 22 outs per game, Webb is on pace to throw more
innings than he ever has before. And it's not like he wasn't a workhorse
to begin with.
He may not exceed his career high in number of pitches thrown this year, but
going deeper into ballgames also means that he throws more warmup pitches at the
start of each new inning. A lot of pitching coaches will tell you that you
can't look at pitch counts in a vacuum, that the number of innings matters too.
And there's no reason not to be too careful with one of the cornerstones of the
Wait. Actually, there is one. The Diamondbacks are in the thick
of both an incredibly tight NL West race and a terribly weak NL Wild Card race.
One start from Webb in August might actually make the difference between playing
in October or preparing for 2007. But if you want some advice on that,
maybe ask Dusty Baker, who rode Mark Prior and Kerry Wood pretty hard in his
2003 push for the postseason. How have their careers panned out?
Better yet, ask Billy Martin, whose 1980 A's squad threw nearly twice as many
complete games as the next team in baseball. Each of his four starters
that year got injured shortly thereafter and were ineffective from there on out.
Not to mention the fact that if Webb does lead the club to the postseason,
he's going to have to pitch in it! That will mean more innings pitched and
more pitches thrown and greater risk of injury or ineffectiveness.
But the decision to put Webb on the DL goes even beyond his own health
concerns. While the team is waiting and re-evaluating his arm every couple
of days, Brandon is burning a spot on the roster. Before the roster
expands in September, the Diamondbacks need as many players contributing on the
major league team as possible. This is especially true if Webb indeed can'
t pitch in the next week or so, because no other starter on the team is a lock
to go six innings. One more bullpen arm could make a difference in the
standings now, and also save a guy like Tony Pena from getting overworked and
developing arm troubles of his own.
So pretty, pretty please, put Webb on the DL retroactively. It's best
for him, it's best for the bullpen, and it's best for the team, both for this
year and for future seasons. If he does happen to heal before his entire
15 days is up, it's not as though his arm is going too get too healthy.
Read more from Keith Glab at