Allen Webster’s Secondary Pitches Are Absolutely Filthy
The Cubs optioned Carl Edwards Jr. to Triple-A and called up Allen Webster in hope of restoring some consistency to the bullpen. Now that Webster is up in the bigs, the Cubs can’t send him down unless he passes through waivers, which seems unlikely given his ridiculous stuff.
Even though Webster threw just 3 innings for the Cubs in 2018, we can still look at some of his Trackman data in order to get an idea of what his stuff looks like. The 29-year-old throws mainly two secondary offerings: a changeup and a slider.
Webster’s changeup appears to be pretty nasty, according to both the eye test and the data. You can see below that the 19 changeups Webster threw last year had more spin than about 85% of all other changeups in MLB. And just look at how silly he made the Pirates’ Pablo Reyes look with the offspeed pitch.
Webster’s other secondary pitch, a slider, is also pretty filthy. As you see below, most of Webster’s sliders had more cutting action than around 75% of MLB. And that horizontal movement is coupled with velocity most batters never see on sliders. That combination of movement and velocity froze the Cardinal’s Harrison Bader last season.
One really interesting aspect of Webster’s slider is that he disguises it well with his fastball. His vertical and horizontal release point between both pitches are essentially identical, as illustrated by the overlapping error bars below.
Look, I’m having crazy anxiety thinking about this bullpen just like you, but Webster gives me a little bit of hope. Granted, it’s one thing to have hope and another to expect results. I don’t know if we can necessarily expect Webster to immediately get high-leverage outs, but his secondary stuff suggests he eventually could.
Let’s hope so, because I fear I’ll lose my mind with too many more of these late-inning implosions.