Tyler Webb has been a reliable reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals for three seasons. However, in 2021, things have started horribly.
I have long been a defender of Tyler Webb. Since he joined the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle of 2018, the Virginia native has quietly done his work and done it well despite the landing spot of many fans’ criticism and disdain.
From 2018 to 2020, Webb had a 3.53 ERA over 97.0 total innings. Though his FIP was a much higher 4.41, he is a contact pitcher so that is not uncommon to see a bump in his FIP. While he was used the most in 2019 (65 appearances with a 3.76 ERA), it was 2020 where Webb really shined. In 21.2 innings, Webb allowed just five earned runs, dropping his ERA to 2.09. He had the most appearances out of any Cardinal in the bullpen and performed despite the rigorous schedule.
For Webb, some of the fan attention may come because of the way he gets it done on the mound. He averages 90.5 mph on his fastball, none of his pitches have great spin rates, and it just doesn’t make sense how a guy who doesn’t have the “look” of a professional baseball player could be getting it done.
As you can see from 2021, the top half of the chart (the output) seems to disconnect from the bottom of the chart (the input). I’ve taken a stab at what makes Webb’s stuff work (hint: it’s nothing showed on the Savant home page), but in 2021, it seems the magic has worn off for Webb, making it difficult to continue to defend him.
In just 12.0 innings this year, Webb has already amassed an impressive -0.8 bWAR. How in the world do you do that in 12 innings? Well, Webb has walked 14 and given up 15 earned runs, putting his WHIP at 2.250. Though he’s appeared in 17 games and faced 65 batters, he has only thrown 12.0 innings (or gotten 36 total outs), another impressive feat with the three batter minimum rule in effect.
As you can see from his Savant page, Webb has still limited hard hit balls, but outside of that, things have deteriorated.
At 30 years old, it is too early to see age-related decline. All of Webb’s pitch velocities are steady and his spin rates are really close to where they have been. What it looks like the problem is for Webb is his command.
Like the rest of the
team, he has walked way too many batters and the extra men on base have come around to bite him.
I’m not in the rooms where internal discussions happen with the St. Louis Cardinals, but I’m sure that the issues surrounding Tyler Webb have been noticed. For Webb, nobody knows how long his leash is but the facts are simple. He is 30, he has no options, and he has been comically bad to start the year.
Whatever magic Webb had, he needs to rekindle, and the easiest way to start that is by throwing more strikes. If not, Webb’s days with St. Louis will likely be nearing their end.