Is Brandon Webb Rosterable?

By R.J. Anderson //

Brandon Webb averaged 33 starts a season from 2003 until the 2009 season. He’s made one start since (on Opening Day of the 2009 season), as a shoulder injury sidelined him for the duration of the 2010 season. After 199 appearances with the Arizona Diamondbacks, number 200 and beyond will come as a member of the Texas Rangers. Webb signed a one-year deal with Texas, heavy on incentives, over the holiday weekend.

Webb threw for scouts late last season, and the reported velocity readings were disappointing. Webb has never been someone to toss fireballs at batters – his fastball has sat around 87-89 for his career – but low-to-mid 80s is a whole other beast. Webb has been one of the most extreme groundball pitchers in the game throughout his career, which could lead you to wonder if he could, in fact, get by with a fastball of 85 mph or lower. If he does, he’ll be in rarefied air. Below is a list of right-handed pitchers with velocities under 86 miles per hour on their fastballs last season, along with the usage rate and their ERA:

R.A. Dickey (83.9 MPH, 16.1% usage): 2.84 ERA

Livan Hernandez (84.3 MPH, 61.4% usage): 3.66 ERA

The accompanying peripherals suggest both Dickey and Hernandez weren’t as good as their ERA suggests. Next, comparing Webb to Dickey is a bit ridiculous. Dickey lives and dies with his knuckler – which makes him odd. Even odder is that he lacks a UCL in his throwing arm – i.e. the ligament operated on in Tommy John surgery. Comparing Webb to Hernandez is imperfect as well. Hernandez is notorious for his pacing and relative lack of stuff, getting by for years on guile and durability.

That Webb fits into his own category isn’t surprising. What that means, though, is that he should be approached carefully. Depending on spring reports, he could become borderline rosterable in deep AL-only leagues,. But for now Webb is not a suitable fantasy option, until proven otherwise.

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