10 December 2013

On Ryan Webb and Blown Saves

On Friday, the Orioles made their biggest signing of the offseason (so far) when they inked reliever Ryan Webb to a two-year, $4.5 million deal. Webb should be a serviceable reliever for Buck Showalter, though it's unclear at the moment exactly how he will be used. Dan Connolly pointed out one of Webb's statistical quirks shortly after the signing:
What does that mean? Probably nothing. In five major league seasons, Webb has appeared in 266 games and pitched 276 innings. So in the grand scheme of things, that's just nine appearances of many. Still, with Jim Johnson gone, the O's closer role is seemingly up for grabs, and it's certainly possible that Webb receives some save opportunities. Plus, it's easy to overreact to Connolly's observation. So let's explore it a bit further. Keep in mind, Webb played with the Padres from 2009-2010 and the Marlins from 2011-2013.

Blown Save No. 1: June 27, 2010 vs. Florida

With the Padres leading 2-0 in the sixth inning, Webb entered the game with two outs and runners on first and second. He allowed an RBI single but retired the next batter to end the inning. He stayed on in the seventh, though, and allowed another RBI single with one out before inducing a double play to end the inning. The Padres scored two runs in the top of the eighth, so of course Webb received the victory.

Blown Save No. 2: September 24, 2010 vs. Cincinnati

Leading 2-1 in the sixth inning, the Padres called on Webb. After a single, a fielder's choice/error, and another single, the game was tied. A couple batters latter, Joe Thatcher allowed an inherited runner to score as well. Still, none of the runs were earned. The Padres went on to win 4-3, though Webb didn't get the win this time.

Blown Save No. 3: April 25, 2011 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

This would be the first of three straight appearances for Webb with blown saves. Here, with the Marlins ahead 2-1, he comes into the game in the seventh inning with runners on second and third and one out. After facing two batters -- an RBI groundout and an RBI single -- the Marlins trail 3-2. The Marlins eventually win anyway, 5-4.

Blown Save No. 4: April 27, 2011 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

With the Marlins ahead 4-3, Webb gets the call to pitch the seventh inning. He allowed a leadoff single, and that runner moves to second base after a sacrifice bunt. Webb then balks, moving the runner to third. The next batter doubles, tying the game. No more runs score that inning. Also, for the first time after a blown save, Webb's team loses (5-4).

Blown Save No. 5: April 30, 2011 vs. Cincinnati

Leading 3-2 in the eighth inning with two outs and runners on second, the Marlins summon Webb to face Paul Janish. Janish ties the game with a single, though Webb retires the next batter to the end inning. The Marlins eventually lose in extra innings.

Blown Save No. 6: September 19, 2011 vs. Atlanta

Leading 4-3 in the seventh, Webb entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs to face Martin Prado. Prado walked, and another run scored when Chipper Jones reached on an error. The next batter flied out, but the Marlins now trailed 5-4. They did win on a walk-off home run by Omar Infante, so that was nice.

Blown Save No. 7: May 28, 2013 vs. Tampa Bay

Ahead 5-3 in the sixth inning, the Marlins turned to Webb with one out and two runners on. Webb proceeded to allow a game-tying double. But he did retire the next two batters.

Blown Save No. 8: August 8, 2013 vs. Pittsburgh

With the Marlins winning 4-3 in the seventh inning, Webb was summoned to try to escape a based loaded/one-out jam. The first batter he faced hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game, and the next batter reached on an error to load the bases again. He induced a groundball to end the inning, though, and also pitched a scoreless eighth.

Blown Save No. 9: September 4, 2013 vs. Chicago Cubs

Entering with a one-run lead, no outs, and a runner on first, Webb immediately allows a two-run home run. Oddly enough, he proceeds to strike out the next three batters (all swinging) to end the seventh inning.


To recap, that's six blown saves for Webb in the seventh inning, two in the sixth, and one in the eighth. When many fans think of blown saves, they think of a reliever blowing a game in either the eighth or ninth inning. Webb didn't appear in any of the games above in the ninth inning, and he only blew one of his save opportunities in the eighth. But Webb has never been a closer. He's a middle reliever who is sometimes called on to pitch in high-leverage situations.

The important thing to note here is that the Orioles have signed a useful reliever -- regardless of whether he ends up closing games or not. Webb's career numbers are similar to Johnson's:

Ryan Webb: 6.26 K/9, 3.16 BB/9, 57.4 GB%, 6.9% HR/FB (3.29 ERA in 276 IP)
Jim Johnson: 5.96 K/9, 2.59 BB/9, 57.7 GB%, 7.9% HR/FB (3.11 ERA in 400 IP)

Webb, 27, is also three years younger than Johnson. But this post isn't meant to be an in-depth analysis of Webb, which Nate Delong will be exploring more in a few days, or any of his individual relief appearances. Just remember that if for some reason Webb does end up getting a save opportunity here or there, you'll probably hear about him being 0-for-9 in save chances and how it means something. And don't forget that Jim Johnson was once viewed as not having the right "stuff" or "mentality" to be a closer. So much for that.


Unknown said...

One of the stats most unfair to middle relievers is the saves-to-blown saves ratio. A pitcher can only earn a save if he completes the ninth (or later) inning, whereas he can blow a save in the sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth. To say that Webb is 0-for-9 in "save" opportunities is utterly misleading; he's either 0-for-0 in save opportunities or you must include his holds.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Yup, that was sort of the reason for writing the post. It doesn't really say anything.

Jon Shepherd said...

Just to define things further...Webb has 37 holds.

h2h Corner said...

I like Webb and think any relievers that get GBs are worth looking at for Baltimore. I do wonder what will happen to his HR rate though. He pitched a lot in cavernous parks and Camden is pretty opposite. Myabe it'll be nothing, hard to tell what might happen in 60 IPs, but I'm a bit worried that his HR/FB rate doubles (maybe that's a bit munch) which could make his somewhat higher BB rate (compared to Johnson) a little untenable. He'll be a solid reliever but I do wonder what happens if he gives up a few more dingers early...Buck isnt one to overreact, but still.