Last year I did a two-part series on the “key” players for each team. A “key” player is a type of player that had an injury plagued or down season the year before and if he can make a come back, then the team would be much better off.
I plan on continuing this two-part series again this year and I will give you a little preview today. The “key” player for the Arizona Diamondbacks is RHP Brandon Webb.
Webb fits my “key” player title to a tee.
From 2005-2008, Webb was not only one of the top pitchers in the National League, but in all of baseball. In those seasons, Webb was 70-37 with a 3.23 ERA and won the NL Cy Young in 2006. In 2007 and 2008, Webb finished second in the voting.
However, the 2009 season was a lost season for Webb. He made his first start of the season, got rocked by the Colorado Rockies, and never pitched again.
Webb went on the disabled list with shoulder bursitis and eventually needed surgery on his right shoulder. Now trying to make a comeback, Webb finally returned to the place where he has had the most success in his life–the pitcher’s mound.
For the first time since having shoulder surgery last August, Webb threw off a mound yesterday. Webb threw 20-25 pitches at Chase Field in Arizona and said he felt good afterwards.
“I’m right where I expected to be,” Webb said in a statement through the Associated Press. “Having not been on the mound in a year, I am pleased with how I felt.”
The Diamondbacks will take it slow with Webb in spring training, giving him extra days rest between starts and throwing sessions. If Webb doesn’t have any setbacks in spring training, he should be ready to go for Opening Day.
This is very, very good news for Diamondback fans. Arizona has added some nice pieces this offseason, but in order for the Diamondbacks to compete for the NL West title or a Wild Card spot, they need Webb to stay healthy in 2010.
Here is what I wrote about who I think Webb can be back in November:
“Webb’s career is really starting to remind me of Orel Hershiser’s. Hershiser was a sinker-ball pitcher, who logged a lot innings, won a Cy Young, and in the middle of his career underwent rotator cuff surgery.
Hershiser was a good pitcher after the surgery, but never was the dominate pitcher he once was. I think Webb can be the same pitcher Hershiser was post-surgery.
That means a pitcher who can still log a lot of inning, strikes out few, has a high WHIP, but can still gut his way out to 10-15 wins.”
The Diamondbacks will only go as far as Webb goes in 2010. If he can make a successful comeback, then Arizona will have a nice three-headed monster with Webb, Dan Haren, and Edwin Jackson. If Webb suffers any setbacks next year, then Arizona will have a massive hole to fill in their rotation.
That is why he will be the “key” player for the Diamondbacks in 2010.
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