The Braves recalled right-handed reliever Jacob Webb from Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday and placed him on the 60-day injured list with an elbow impingement, David O’Brien of The Athletic tweets. The move opened up 40-man space for outfielder Billy Hamilton, whom the Braves claimed off waivers from the Royals.
This will be a season-ending development for Webb, whose elbow problems have helped prevent him from pitching in the majors since July 12. He had been in the minors over the past couple weeks after coming off the 10-day IL on Aug. 4. The 26-year-old will wrap up his rookie campaign having pitched to a measly 1.39 ERA over 32 1/3 innings. Of course, ERA indicators FIP (4.31), xFIP (5.14) and SIERA (4.54) weren’t nearly as bullish on Webb’s work, while his strikeout, walk and groundball rates (7.79 K/9, 3.34 BB/9, 38.2 GB%) also suggest he’d have had a difficult time upholding his great ERA had he stayed healthy.
In fairness to Webb, he doesn’t simply look like a case of smoke and mirrors. The hard thrower logged a strong 17.5 percent infield fly rate before hitting the IL last month and also emerged as a Statcast favorite. Webb’s fastball velocity (95.1 mph; 81st percentile) and spin rate (88th percentile) have been among the most impressive in the game in 2019, which is also true of his expected weighted on-base average (.287) and real wOBA against (.281).
It’s debatable how much good fortune factored into Webb’s success this year, but what’s clear is that he has been one of the few Atlanta relievers to post overwhelmingly positive results in the run prevention category. Webb is far and away No. 1 in ERA among all regular Braves bullpen arms, so it’s a letdown for the NL East leaders to lose a promising young hurler in what has been a trying season for their relief corps.