Webb & Kapler detail decision to let ace face ninth-place Phillies originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
PHILADELPHIA — For two years as Philadelphia Phillies manager, Gabe Kapler had every bullpen decision scrutinized, so it surely sounded familiar to him as he looked up in the top of the ninth inning Monday and tried to understand what to do.
The Giants had taken a one-point lead at Evan Longoria’s homer and Kapler had two options, both seemingly good, but both with some risk.
Logan Webb had retired 13 straight on one of his busiest days of the year and looked like the pitcher who took games by the throat last season. He was just 98 of eight shots, and behind him was a bullpen with the Majors’ worst ERA in May.
But the man warming up at the time was the most effective of that group. Southpaw Jarlin Garcia hasn’t been allowed a run this season, and with lefties Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper expected in ninth, Garcia also made sense.
Kapler has a reputation outside of the building for managing by numbers, but his greatest strength in the dugout might be his desire to communicate at all times. On Monday, his conversation with Webb made for an easy decision.
“At the end of the day, Webby really wanted the ball. That’s why we made this decision,” Kapler said. “When our starting pitchers really want the ball, they sail like him — he apparently had his best thing in the sixth inning, seventh inning, eighth inning — it was the right play to give him that opportunity.”
The movement would backfire, at least temporarily. Webb’s second pitch from the ninth was hit over the center field wall, but Curt Casali won the game an inning later. Because the Giants came away with a 5-4 win, they were able to more easily break through one of the toughest decisions of the year for Kapler. And they were able to appreciate a young ace who still wants the ball in his right hand with the game on the line.
“He told me I was offside. I told him no,” Webb said. “I said I wanted the ninth. I think everyone was coming up to me and saying ‘let’s go’. Unfortunately I couldn’t do it.”
Webb threw an 0-1 slider that didn’t catch much of the plate, but Schwarber is one of the best power hitters in the game, and he redirected it just out of middle fielder Stuart Fairchild’s reach. Afterwards, Kapler didn’t look like someone with regrets.
“When we see with our eyes that Webby looks really good, Webby asks for the baseball, his teammates want him to have the baseball, and we think he’s a good option to bring out the next three batters, we are going to give him that opportunity,” Kapler said.
It meant a lot to Webb, who enjoyed his manager’s confidence and was happy to have had his chance in ninth.
“I bet you in 2020 he wouldn’t let me do that,” Webb said with a smile.
The right-hander was an unknown commodity back then, but last season he burst onto the scene and became one of the best pitchers in the National League. It’s been a mixed year with Webb getting results despite not feeling his best. On Monday, it had all worked out.
The Phillies struck out 10 times in the first eight innings, tying a career high for Webb, who got seven on his substitution. They had just four hits, although three of them went off the court as Webb gave up more than two homers for the first time in his career.
The third stung, but Casali made sure it didn’t result in a loss. He later said the decision to stay with Webb was the right one.
“He should have this opportunity 100%,” Casali said. “I think it’s more about earning the right to do that and potentially saving a few arms in the bullpen. I think it just shows what type of guy he is. He wants the ball in this situation. as everyone saw in the playoffs last year.
“I think that’s around the time he started to turn things around last year, so hopefully that’s a sign of better things to come.”
RELATED: Kapler explains his decision to represent the anthem on Memorial Day
Webb took off last May and on Monday looked like the pitcher who carried the Giants in the second half last season and then mowed down the Los Angeles Dodgers twice in the playoffs. That run made Webb the ace of staff and earned him an opening day start, but there are still some things to check off the to-do list.
Webb worked hard to be more efficient and deep in his games, and Monday’s win was the second time in his career he had 24 strikeouts. It was the first time he had embarked on the ninth, another stage, even if it was short-lived. It didn’t work out, but Webb should have more opportunities to fight for round nine soon.
“It would be cool to have a full game, but it was more than it looked like my game,” Webb said. “I had pitched the first eighth, we were up and I wanted to win. You know me, there’s nothing I love more than that. I wanted to. It sucks, I didn’t could follow to the end.”
Download and follow the Giants Talk podcast