1,315. That is the number of innings Brandon Webb has thrown in healthy seasons.
Four. That is the number of innings Webb threw last year while injuring his shoulder in the first game of the season.
The Diamondbacks lost their ace for the season on Opening Day last year and then had to make the decision whether or not to pick up the team option for $10-plus million in the offseason.
The D-Backs went ahead and decided to keep Webb around for another season despite getting nothing even a similar to a guarantee for their investment. The D-Backs are definitely playing a game of feast or famine with their payroll, as Webb has shown he can be pretty good—around a 7.0 K/9, less than 3.0 BB/9, a home run rate that never even sniffs 1.0 over nine innings, and what was durability.
Likely last season a lot of fantasy owners got burned just like Arizona by having Webb cash out after one game. However, should you remain wary of him on draft day? I don’t think so. Early spring reports show that Webb is healthy and throwing. While I don’t expect 30 starts from him, there is definite value in getting 20 to 25 starts from Brandon Webb.
If your league features a disabled list, Webb is a great addition to your team, as he may start the season on the DL. While you sandbag a pick somewhere in the draft to snag him up, you might just have that “waiver wire” gold pickup in May or June when Webb starts throwing his sinking fastballs that eventually force opposing batters to beat up infields across the National League.
In a traditional roto league, Webb might be good for 10 wins, 100 Ks, a low ERA, a good WHIP, not a lot of walks, or he might not be good for any of that. In a FIP league like our own here, he’s got a great background of efficiently deep starts, a decent K rate, and gives up fewer home runs in a season than most relievers. Our league values a great staring pitcher, and Webb is exactly that.
The X-factor in the whole deal is that team option Webb and the Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to. Not only does Webb get paid this season, but next offseason he’ll be on the open market. Even if the Diamondbacks are not winning, I got a feeling Webb might be auditioning for potential clients every five days.
This is a win-win situation for fantasy managers, as they have a motivated player who might sleep his way deep into the draft.
I wouldn’t throw a fifth round pick at him, but I wouldn’t let him slide past round 12 in my league. At that point it's worth testing the waters and trying to find a steak in a sea of mediocrity.
Brandon Webb has super sleeper written all over him, and he shouldn’t cost you a whole lot. If he fails, you move on; if he recovers, you might be on your way to your own postseason payday...assuming you’re participating in a league that pays you to win.