It's tough to root for a team when you don't know the ins and outs of each player. So, once a week I'm going to do the leg work for you dedicated O's fans and find out everything you need to know about your Birds.
I felt it was proper to start out with a guy who is brand new to Baltimore. His signing didn't get our collective blood pumping, but he is sure to be an integral part of an improved bullpen. That man is the big snarling guy at the top of this page: Ryan Webb
Name: Ryan Christopher Webb Number: 58
Born: February 5th, 1986 (28 years old) in Clearwater, FL
Height: 6'6" Weight: 245 lbs
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Drafted: 4th round, 2004 by the Oakland Athletics
School: Clearwater Central Catholic HS (Clearwater, FL)
Became an Oriole: Non-tendered by Miami following 2013 season. Signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal with Baltimore on December 10, 2013
Webb never made it onto the Oakland Athletics' big league team. Before he got there, he was traded along with fellow minor-leaguer Craig Italiano to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Scott Hairston. In San Diego, Webb pitched well in middle relief. During his time there, the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the big Floridian threw 84.2 innings with an earned run average (ERA) of 3.21 and striking out 6.7 batters per nine innings pitched.
Following the 2010 season, Webb was a part of another trade. This time he was sent to the then-Florida Marlins along with Edward Mujica in exchange for outfielder Cameron Maybin. He would spend the next three seasons down south. In that time, the Clearwater native took on a more and more prominent role in the Miami bullpen. It all culminated in his most successful pro season in 2013. He managed career high in innings (80.1) and strikeouts (54) while pitching to a measly 2.91 ERA.
To this point, Webb has had a solid, albeit unremarkable, career. His career statistics look like this: 276 innings pitched, 13-15 record, 3.29 ERA, 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, and ZERO saves.
Currently, Webb technically has a repertoire of four pitches. However, according to FanGraphs, in 2013 he threw a four-seam fastball 0.1% of the time. (No, that is not a typo) When throwing the fastball it clocks in around 92 MPH. His primary pitch, as you may have heard, is a sinking fastball which he tossed 59.4% of the time. That comes in a tick hotter at about 92.3 MPH. Webb will change speeds with a slider and occasionally a change-up. In 2013, he threw the slider, which averages just below 82 MPH, 34.4% of the time. His change-up only accounted for 4.6% of his pitches thrown and sputters in at around 84 MPH. Basically, he is a two-pitch guy: sinker and slider.
As with many who favor the sinker, Webb is predominantly a ground ball pitcher. His career ground ball rate is 57.4 %. The league average is 44%. Think of him as "Jim Johnson-lite". He doesn't throw quite as hard, but makes his money on inducing grounders. This should play well for Webb in Camden Yards with the team he has around him. Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy both have gold gloves, Chris Davis nearly captured one of his own in 2013 and both Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop have been lauded for their defense this spring training.
Webb is a guy who can be equally effective against lefties and righties. His splits looked like this in 2013:
The Season Ahead
It seems that Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter have brought Webb in as one of the go-to middle relievers. The seventh and eight innings will likely be reserved for the likes of Brian Matusz and Darren O'Day, respectively. Webb looks to feature more in the fifth or sixth; those days when the starters labor, but keep the O's in the game.
Some have mentioned Webb as a potential closer in 2014. I don't see that. His style doesn't present itself well there. His strikeout numbers don't "wow" anyone. He is not an overpowering guy. Webb would do well to come in when a ground ball is needed; men on first and second with one out. A ground ball there to the Baltimore infield is almost a sure double play. Add to that, the fact that he doesn't have a single save to his name thus far in his career. Showalter will prefer to stay with Tommy Hunter, Matusz, or O'Day for the final three outs.
Did you learn everything you cared to about Ryan Webb? Let me know in the comments down below and be sure to mention who you want to "Get to Know" next time.