Who is Jacob Webb?
An 18th round draft pick from tiny Tabor College in 2014, Webb is a 26 year old right handed reliever just now appearing in the bigs. He had 2 saves on days when Jackson was unavailable and posted a shiny 1.39 ERA for Atlanta in 22 innings before being shut down for arthroscopic surgery on his elbow in August. His minor league record shows a pitcher who will strike out about 10 batters per nine innings while giving up more walks and flyballs than you would like.
A Deeper Dive in the Numbers
Webb’s ERA was much better than his FIP and xFIP (which project how the average pitcher would perform with the same peripherals) by about 3 points — Yowsa! The reason for this overperformance is interesting: lefties only managed a .195 BABIP against him, while righties had a more normal .255. Regression suggests that unless he discovered something this year — and his changeup usage jumped to almost 20% vs lefties this year, so he might have — he is in for what we shall call a “Sobotka” in 2020.
What the Future Holds
Prognostication systems have a notoriously hard time predicting the futures of relievers because all except the elite tend towards very uneven performances. Both ZIPS and Steamer see Webb as a slightly below replacement option going forward. In his favor, he is already on the 40-man roster and has that nice ERA to convince the Braves braintrust that he is deserving of a bullpen spot out of spring training next season. On the other hand, history and the fungibility of righties who walk 4+ guys per nine are against. I’ll be rooting for him.