Rather than building upon his success from 2019 and 2020, Webb took a big step back. Webb had flashed potential and had very successful results in the past, but he has struggled with injuries in his career and has had multiple moments that have derailed his progress. He didn’t give up any runs in his 10 IP in 2020 and only allowed 5 in his 32.1 IP in 2019; that’s the pitcher everyone is hoping Webb is and can be moving forwards.
His season started off rocky, allowing 11 runs in his first 13 appearances; then the Mets game. On May 17th, a 94-mph fastball slipped away and hit Kevin Pillar in the face. Webb ended up getting tagged for the loss in that game. He made 2 more appearances against the Pirates in the coming days, but he looked noticeably shaken. He wasn’t the same pitcher, giving up 3 runs in just 1.1 innings. He gave up 2 runs and received the loss in extra innings of the first game then gave up a run in the 9th inning of a game in which the Braves held a 20-0 lead in the second. He was sent to AAA and besides making a few appearances in between he didn’t really return until September, where he was a completely different pitcher. He pitched in 14 games, 12 of which he didn’t give up a run. This was very encouraging to see, as he was clearly putting in the work while in AAA to earn his way back to the big leagues.
Mainly a fastball/slider pitcher, Webb’s highest ranking on a Braves prospect list was at #17 in 2019. He was never seen as a top prospect, but he impressed the Braves enough to be added to their 40-man roster after the 2018 season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Like many other Braves pitchers, his biggest concern is his command, with 36 walks in his 76.2 career IP. Something notable about his 2021 pitch profile, his average FB velocity sat around 94 which was down from the 95-96 he was throwing in 2019 and his slider was up from 81-82 to around 84. While this may not seem like a big deal, pitching is about deception and change. If his two main pitches used to be 15-mph apart and are now around 12-mph apart, it makes it a lot easier for batters to catch up if they guess wrong. This is something to keep an eye on for 2022, hopefully at least his fastball will be back at full throttle.
The Braves brought a few new faces into their bullpen before the lockout began, but with Chris Martin, Jesse Chavez and Richard Rodriguez as free agents it would be pretty shocking if Webb were left off the Opening Day roster. The Braves will need Webb to continue with his late season success. With luck, he’ll be a very valuable middle reliever. As the roster currently stands, he’s likely the best right-handed option behind Luke Jackson. It would be surprising to see the Braves stand pat rather than add another reliver or two, but Webb should still be on the roster regardless. I’m excited to see how Webb performs in 2022, but like many other Braves players this year could be his last chance if he’s unable to perform to his potential.