The Dodgers acquisition of reliever Ryan Webb points to the club not having confidence in their current relief corp. The 29-year old right hander is a ground ball specialist, and has put up solid but not fantastic numbers. The club acquired Webb along with minor league catcher Brian Ward and a draft pick from the Orioles on Thursday afternoon, in exchange for minor league catcher Chris O’Brien, and sidearm hurler Ben Rowen.
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There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Dodger bullpen. The Dodger’s bullpen threw three scoreless innings in Monday’s win. They then threw four scoreless innings in Wednesday’s win as well. However they also allowed six runs in Tuesday evening’s loss, blowing a 2-1 lead, and a 3-3 tie. Hatcher saved Monday’s win, Peralta saved Wednesday’s match.
Webb used to be a starting pitcher when he first came up with the A’s, but couldn’t find sustained success as a starter. Since then he has been a reliever. Webb has never been a big swing and miss guy. Webb has a career 6.3 strikeout per nine rate. He’s kept that pretty consistently over his six year MLB career.
As noted above, Webb is a ground ball guy, and pitches to contact. he has a career 90% contact rate when he throws a pitch inside the strike zone, and a batter swings at it. His ground ball rates have been impressive. Last year he had a 48.7% ground ball rate, which was the lowest mark of his career. He’s had a high of 62.3% in 2010, and has a 56.7% career rate.
Webb is primarily a sinkerball pitcher. Explaining why he gets so many grounders. He throws that sinker with high velocity too. Sometimes his sinker can reach up to 95 on the radar gun. Webb also throws a slider, and changeup. Both pitches are thrown in the mid 80’s and the slider is his off-speed pitch into right handers, while his changeup is mostly thrown to lefties.
Now what are the Dodgers going to do with Webb? My guess is that we see a move announced later today. I think the Dodgers are going to put him on the major league club right away. He might be pitching in this upcoming weekend series against Arizona. We may even see him in tonight’s game.
My speculation is that one of the youngsters with options gets sent down. J.P. Howell, Chris Hatcher, Joel Peralta, and Juan Nicasio are not going anywhere. So that leaves Paco Rodriguez, Yimi Garcia, and Pedro Baez as possible candidates to get the axe this afternoon.
I doubt Paco would get sent down. First of all it would be stupid because Paco has looked great this spring. Second of all, the club only has two left handers and going with just one wouldn’t make sense. So that narrows the choices down to Yimi or Baez.
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Honestly my bet is that Yimi gets sent down. Baez has actually looked pretty solid, and Yimi while having a great spring, has seemed a bit tentative. Yimi has pitched two frames, allowing one earned run on two hits and whiffing two. Baez has pitched 2.1 innings and allowed one unearned run on one hit and whiffed three.
It’s only been three games of course, but as much as I like Yimi, It’s possible he could benefit from some more seasoning. The Dodgers need help in the seventh and eighth innings, and Webb can slot right in to those spots. This is another case of Andrew Friedman, and Farhan Zaidi doing what they do best. That’s picking up consistent cost effective under the radar type players.
A move could be coming soon. Webb has been quite solid throughout his career, and I think it’s worth it for the Dodgers to see what he can bring to the bullpen.