Tangled Webb for D'backs

Tangled Webb for D'backs
By Steve Henson, Yahoo Sports
October 14, 2007

Steve Henson
Yahoo Sports
DENVER – Memo to Bob Melvin. Mark it urgent. Tag it with a red flag. Reply requested.

Bob, it's time to call on your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. He's your best chance at staving off elimination in the National League championship series.

You and everybody who follows your Arizona Diamondbacks know I mean Brandon Webb, the reigning Cy Young award winner, whose big moments in your home park are accompanied by the Spider-Man theme song blaring through the stadium.

In the chill of night
At the scene of a crime
Like a stream of light
He arrives just in time
Here comes the Spider-Man

No doubt Webb will arrive in time, but it will be up to you to hand him the ball in Game 4 on Monday night.

Chill of night? Check. Sunday night's 4-1 Colorado Rockies victory in Game 3 was played in 43-degree temperatures.

Scene of a crime? Check. The Rockies are one victory from a sweep and World Series appearance, while your Diamondbacks would be sentenced to an offseason of second-guessing.

After Game 3 you said, "No, Webb's not starting tomorrow." Stick with that stance and, yes, you'll be second-guessed plenty.

I can only hope you are engaging in gamesmanship, one more brilliant gambit in a season that probably will net you the NL Manager of the Year award. You did a masterful job guiding a team to 90 victories and the NL West title despite being outscored.

But not going with your best pitcher in the most crucial game of the season would mute the praise. Especially when instead you plan to start Micah Owings, a rookie with a .500 record who hasn't taken the mound since Sept. 27.

I know Webb has had only three days' rest instead of the customary four. I know he never has pitched on short rest as a professional. But he led the league in innings pitched with 236. He's a workhorse.

Furthermore, he's the only pitcher to beat the Rockies in their last 21 games, giving up two runs in seven innings Sept. 28. Webb was 18-10 with a 3.01 ERA this season. He had a streak of 42 consecutive scoreless innings.

And he wants the ball.

"I think for sure I'd be fine," said Webb, who threw a bullpen session Sunday. "But that's not going to be the case. I'm not pitching. I don't know what the thinking is."

It's not as if Webb would be a shell of himself on three days' rest. His best pitch is a sinker, which sometimes can be more effective on short rest. Just ask the Los Angeles Dodgers' Derek Lowe, another sinkerballer who has had success pitching a day early.

"Yeah, I've heard I'd get more action on my sinker on three days," Webb said. "I'd be fine."

Bob, I know you consulted with your pitching coach, Bryan Price, and that he supports your decision. Price sounded like he doesn't have full confidence in Webb pitching against the Rockies, against whom he was 1-3 with a 5.77 ERA in six starts this season. Webb also gave up four runs in six innings in Game 1, but wasn't hit especially hard.

"The most important thing is putting our pitchers in a realistic situation to be successful," Price said. "He's not a guy who hasn't had problems against this team. We might be setting him up to fail."

Bob, maybe that's what you alluded to when you said, "His workload is part of it, but there are other considerations."

Excuse me for being blunt, but fail is all your team has done in this series. Your moves have backfired, your team's hitting has been weak and its baserunning atrocious.

Don't compound it with faulty reasoning. Price said, "The only way we win is to win the series. Micah will have to win Game 4, and three other guys will have to win games too."

Actually, if Webb won Game 4 and two other pitchers won Games 5 and 6, Webb would be set up to pitch Game 7 Saturday.

On his regular four days' rest.

The way it stands, if your team wins Game 4, Webb would pitch Game 5 on Wednesday – on five days' rest – and be unavailable for a potential Game 7.

Bob, this decision has weighed heavily on your mind. As it should. You still have time to go with Webb. You said so yourself.

"If we want to change, we can always do it on the fly," Melvin said.

Fly! Now you are getting it. Go with Spider-Man.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man
Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man
Welcome him, he's ignored
Action is his reward
To him, life is a great big bang-up
Wherever there's a hang-up
You'll find the Spider-Man

On the mound in Game 4? It's your call, Bob.

Steve Henson is a Senior Writer and Editor for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter.
Send Steve a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Monday, Oct 15, 2007 2:11 am, EDT

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