Will Righty Webb Return to Cleveland to Provide More Relief?
Bob Toth | On 06, Nov 2015
Every team has its unsung heroes, unheralded contributors whose work goes unnoticed in the background.
Right-hander Ryan Webb filled that role in the Cleveland Indians bullpen in 2015. Now, like many others around the league, he is out of a job after joining Mike Aviles and Gavin Floyd from the Indians in filing for free agency on Monday.
Webb’s journey to the Cleveland roster was a complicated one after starting out the year with the Baltimore Orioles. He had signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal when he joined the O’s and the contract had a stipulation that he would be paid his 2015 $2.75 million salary even if the club decided to release him. The Orioles put him on outright waivers at the end of spring training, but he cleared, leading the team to designate him for assignment. During the first week of the regular season, the O’s found a taker as he was dealt with a minor leaguer and the Orioles 2015 competitive balance round B pick to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher Ben Rowen and minor leaguer Chris O’Brien.
He barely had time to unpack from the move. Three days after his acquisition, he was released by the club. In a roundabout way, the Dodgers bought the Orioles draft pick.
The Indians signed the 6’6” career reliever the next day to a minor league deal and, with the Dodgers footing his bill, only had to pay the prorated portion of the minimum league salary.
He very quietly had a steady season in the Indians bullpen when he was added to the roster by the club on April 29th, just over two weeks after he was signed by the organization. He appeared in 40 games over the course of the year, a career-low, but clearly reduced by missing the first month in roster limbo and in Triple-A. He earned a win, posted a 3.20 ERA, and had a 1.15 WHIP.
Webb worked in a variety of different roles in manager Terry Francona’s bullpen. Nineteen of his 40 appearances were multi-inning outings, including two three-inning efforts and four two-inning games.
He was really strong early, looking his best in May when he appeared in ten games and limited the opposition to a .098 batting average while striking out ten batters. He allowed just two runs on the month for a 1.46 ERA. The next month, a pair of rough outings accounted for five of his six runs allowed in the month, and all six runs came in mop up roles.
Later in the year, he stalled at times, especially during a six-game stretch in mid-August through the second week of September. In six games, he allowed seven runs, including at least one run in five of the outings. It was enough to push his season ERA up nearly one full run.
Previously, Webb had been around the Major League circuit a little, spending five years in the minors for the Oakland Athletics and his first four MLB seasons with the San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins before his stay in Baltimore in 2014.
He came on in relief 28 times during his rookie season in 2009 and another 54 for the Padres in 2010 before being dealt to the Marlins. He worked in 53, 65, and 66 games, respectively, for the Marlins, posting an 8-13 career record there with a 3.34 ERA.
He was 3-3 in 2014 for Baltimore with a 3.83 ERA in 51 games.
Webb, who will turn 29 in February, would provide the Indians with another inning-eating arm in the bullpen, letting Francona utilize relievers like Zach McAllister in one-inning roles more frequently. The team lacked a true long-man this season and had to rely on Webb and McAllister in that capacity on occasion, especially after Anthony Swarzak was removed from the roster.
If his financial demands are not cost-prohibitive on the Indians front office, he may be a piece to consider bringing back for Francona’s bullpen in 2016.
Photo: Jerome Miron/USA Today