Webb's sinker is key to intimidating hitters

Updated: May 16, 2008, 2:05 AM ET
By Eric Young | ESPN

Luckily, I didn't have to face Brandon Webb a lot as a major league hitter, but when I did it was tough because he is such a difficult pitcher to get a read on. There are some pitchers that a hitter can pretty quickly tell what they are relying on when they are on the mound and still get after them. That doesn't happen with Webb. To be honest, when my teammates and I faced Webb we hoped he would be a little off with his command so that we could get his pitch count up and force him out early. We wanted to get to the relievers. But even when Webb was a little off, he could rely on that sinker to get him out of trouble and to keep hitters off-balance.

Obviously, this season he hasn't been off at all with his command. Right now, we are seeing the type of start to a season that is normally only seen on video games, not in the major leagues.

Look, we all know Webb's numbers (9-0, 2.56 ERA, 49 K). As amazing as they are, they aren't what's intimidating hitters. It's his sinker that's blowing everyone away. This pitch has always been the best in his repertoire, and this season it is absolutely killing hitters every time he gets on the mound. Against most sinkerballers, a hitter wants to step up a little bit in the batter's box to try to catch the sinker while it's still up. Webb combats that move against right-handed hitters by getting that pitch inside and/or getting it to start sinking earlier so the hitter is still swinging at air.

He also has a very good fastball, one he can blow by a hitter. He also has a curveball and changeup he mixes in to keep a hitter guessing. With three pitches like that to back him up, it's amazing he doesn't start every season like this.