For much of his short career, Logan Webb has shown tantalizing stuff but then hit a roadblock.
The stuff was on display Monday in Cincinnati, but the concern that arose from the Giants and their fans did not kick in until after he exited.
Webb pitched well to contact that consistently went south for six shutout innings and was pulled after just 86 pitches because he was feeling some shoulder soreness.
Those two words are never good for pitchers, but he and Gabe Kapler downplayed the seriousness. There are no immediate plans for an MRI, but the club will monitor him.
“I don’t feel like it’s anything serious at this point,” Kapler said after the Giants’ 6-3 win over the Reds. “Obviously things can change, but it’s something that was enough for me to say that I didn’t want him to go back out there and put himself at risk.”
Webb said it’s not the first time his shoulder has gotten sore — pitchers deal with a million aches over the course of a season — “but it’s a little different today,” he said, reiterating he was not highly concerned.
Before the scare came a lot of ground balls and a lot of short at-bats, Webb knowing Cincinnati’s lineup likes to attack early. He is the only member of the current Giants rotation who is not a former Red, and he said he talked with a few fellow starters who advised him to “keep the ball down” at the so-called Great American Small Park. He did, and the Reds followed suit.
Of the 18 outs he recorded, just three came from balls that outfielders caught. While Wilmer Flores, Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubon took advantage of the hitter friendly confines, Webb did not allow a hot and powerful Reds lineup to get lift. He got into a bit of trouble in the third, when Nick Castellanos and Tyler Naquin stacked together singles, but his prized two-seamer induced a double-play grounder from Eugenio Suarez. A changeup earned him a second double play in the fifth, but Webb’s best pitch was minimized for a night.
The talk of spring training was his changeup, which he was throwing nearly half the time in his early starts, leading to opponents sitting on it. He used it just 13 times — less frequently than his sinker, four-seamer and slider — against a team that hits well against changeups. The slider, especially against righties like Nick Senzel and Castellanos, was leaned upon.
“The way the slider has been the last couple times, the way it feels right now, I think we just stuck with that and threw it a little bit more,” Webb said of a pitch that he induced six swings and misses on and plenty of soft contact. “When it’s a heavy-righty lineup, there’s probably going to be less changeups than there are usually.”
Kapler repeatedly has challenged Webb to up his game, even after outings that have included solid results, because the Giants feel there’s more there. Even when he neutralizes opponents, Webb has a tendency to waste a few pitches that the Giants want to harp on. After the 24-year-old’s six scoreless innings, Kapler termed it a “good” outing; not great. Webb has now thrown 12 innings in two starts in which he’s allowed one total earned run, and his manager has not yet been effusive.
Alas, he was not asked about Webb’s new mustache.
“I was using my electric shaver and halfway through it, it was dead,” said the newest member of Mustache May. “So then I had to straight razor it.”
Webb also hopes this bout with shoulder soreness will be a close shave.