Webb hit the first significant speed bump in his career in Midland when he struggled to the tune of a 9.12 ERA in five starts with the Rockhounds. He returned to Stockton on June 15 and after a poor first outing back with the Ports, Webb has regained his good form from earlier in the season. He has a 4.42 ERA in 12 starts with the Ports this season, but his peripheral stats are solid. In 73.1 innings for the Ports, Webb has allowed only 59 hits and he has a 63:18 K:BB ratio.
We spoke to Webb on Sunday in Stockton about what he learned from his struggles in Midland and the adjustments he is continuing to make this season.
OaklandClubhouse: It's been kind of an interesting season for you, starting the season out well here in Stockton and then struggling in a brief stay in Midland. What did you learn from that time in Midland?
I had to come back here and I am working to get my arm back in shape and get back on top of the ball. In my last couple of outings, I have been getting on top of the ball and have been getting a lot of groundballs. I have really been the pitcher that I think I am going to be when I move up.
OC: Did you take anything from the experience that former teammate Mike Madsen had making that leap to Midland and struggling last season but succeeding this year?
RW: Yeah. You know probably the best thing for me about being up there was being with the older guys. Madsen is a good friend of mine and it has been really exciting to watch what he has been doing this year, knowing that he started out like all of us did [in Stockton this season]. He was actually my roommate for a couple of weeks up there.
Another guy, Danny Borrell, who is with them now, I trained with him for the whole off-season and he showed up while I was there. It is good to have people like that there with you, especially when you are struggling, because it they really put things into perspective for you and make you realize that it happens to everybody. It was a great experience to play with veteran guys like that.
RW: Just being aggressive with my pitches and knowing that my pitches should be able to get anybody out, any hitter from this league to the major leagues. I know that I have to have confidence in everything that I throw. I know a big factor for me this year is that I am staying out of the middle of the zone. I have been tabbed as a strike-thrower and I try not to walk people, so hitters tend to look in the middle of the zone with me.
The difference now is that I'm not giving in to hitters. I'm not going to give them pitches to hit. I'm going to make them hit my pitch. I wasn't doing that in Midland. I wasn't making quality pitches up there. This year is all about making quality pitches and still improving on my change-up.
OC: As we have spoken over the last few years, you have talked a lot about your mechanics and working on getting that comfortable throwing motion. Do you feel like you have that motion where you want it yet or are you still working on it?
RW: I do. I started out the season very mechanically sound. We tried to make some adjustments when my arm angle dropped. We got away from that and I went home for the All-Star break and came back with a clear head and started over where I was. I just recently made an adjustment with my foot. It's just little things. I was too closed with my foot on the rubber, so I wasn't able to hit the outside corners. Just little reminders now and then. I don't think it is going to be an issue for me [mechanics] moving forward.
OC: Every year with organization, do you feel like you build on what you did the year before or at this point is it starting to feel routine?
I am just getting more comfortable. I know what to expect now. I am comfortable in this league [the California League] and I think that has a lot to do with success. You know where you are going and you get into a routine and you stick to it.
OC: Do you still talk to your dad [former major leaguer Hank Webb] a lot after starts?
RW: I talk to him every day.
OC: Is he someone who can help you through ups and downs in a season?
RW: Yeah, definitely. He is my number one fan and number one influence. Both my mom and dad. They are my rocks.