Lodi News-Sentinel

Giants name Logan Webb Opening Day starter

- Evan Webeck

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It was so obvious, Gabe Kapler really didn’t need to say it. But here it goes, anyway. “Logan Webb will start for us on Opening Day,” the Giants manager said Tuesday morning before his ace took the mound for his third-to-final tuneup of the spring in preparatio­n for March 30 at Yankee Stadium.

Webb, 26, will be making his second straight start on Opening Day after earning the first nod of his career last season. While that start came at Oracle Park, this one comes on an even bigger stage, at Yankee Stadium against Gerrit Cole — and, yes, Aaron Judge.

“It’s just an exciting thought,” Kapler said. “It’s pretty easy to visualize.”

What still takes some imaginatio­n is how the Giants’ experience­d group of starters lines up behind Webb.

They have Alex Cobb, Alex Wood, Sean Manaea, Ross Stripling and Anthony DeSclafani, all of whom are healthy and expect to start games. Meanwhile, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said at the start of spring that a six-man rotation wasn’t a viable long-term option.

Cobb, 35, is “likely” to slot in behind Webb as their No. 2 starter, Kapler said. But how the rest shakes out, “we’re still working through.”

Regardless, Kapler is confident that keeping everyone happy won’t be an issue, even if all six pitchers were promised starting roles with only five spots in the rotation.

“The way we continue to look at it is 162 starts and how do you cover those 162,” Kapler said. “My message to our starting pitchers is pretty simple: All of these guys are going to get a ton of starts. Those are going to be important.”

Webb enjoyed the best season of his career in 2022, setting personal bests in games started (32), innings (192 ), ERA (2.90) and wins (15) among numerous other statistica­l categories. Yet on multiple occasions, the Giants’ rising ace has expressed disappoint­ment in his 2022.

One goal of his that should be well within reach is the 200-inning threshold, something he was only kept from last season because the Giants began to monitor his workload once they were eliminated from contention. This year, “I see no reason why he can’t achieve that goal,” Kapler said.

“He’s developed physically,” Kapler said. “He’s bigger, stronger than he has been, and he’s got a good slider right now, which is super encouragin­g with two weeks to go.”

What has encouraged Kapler most this spring, though, is Webb’s accountabi­lity. He has identified areas of his game — taking on more leadership duties in the clubhouse and, between the lines, better controllin­g the running game — that need improvemen­t and taken action. Before camp, Webb helped organize a pitcher’s retreat to northern Arizona and, two weeks later, said at fan fest that he hoped to “change the culture” this season.

“When pitchers start to really push for the value at the margins,” Kapler said, “it is a signal that a guy has stepped forward and developed.”

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