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When Giants turn to 2022, they’ll let Logan Webb lead the way

SAN FRANCISCO — For a Giants team that saw its 107-win dream season come to an end in heartbreaking fashion on Thursday at Oracle Park, it’s too soon to turn the page.

Manager Gabe Kapler acknowledged that frustration and disappointment were still fresh following a controversial ending in which first base umpire Gabe Morales mistakenly ruled first baseman Wilmer Flores had failed to check his swing on a two-strike offering from Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer.

The emotions the Giants felt from Thursday’s defeat were still very raw in the hours after a Game 5 NLDS defeat to the Dodgers, but at some point, members of the organization are going to look toward 2022 and build off the foundation that was laid during a remarkably successful year.

When that time comes, the Giants will build around Logan Webb.

“I think he proved he’s a guy you can build a staff around,” catcher Buster Posey said. “He enjoys being the guy in a big situation and ultimately those are the guys that can bring four other starters together and really elevate their game as well.”

With seven innings of one-run ball in the Giants’ winner-take-all matchup with the Dodgers, Webb continued to establish himself as one of the sport’s emerging stars. His three-pitch mix — a sinker, slider and change-up — from a low three-quarters release proved practically unhittable for any Dodgers player not named Mookie Betts as Webb followed his brilliant performance in Game 1 with another outstanding effort.

“This is just so good from @LoganWebb1053,” former major league starter Brandon McCarthy tweeted. “This style had been totally out of favor and barely taught for a few years and he’s perfected it looking like vintage Jake Peavy. So impressive.”

In each of Webb’s final three starts, the 24-year-old right-hander from Rocklin was pitching the biggest game of his life. On the final day of the regular season, the Giants handed Webb the ball with a chance to clinch a National League West title against the Padres and he aced the test. Last Friday, Webb drew the Game 1 assignment against the Dodgers and tossed 7⅔ scoreless innings while racking up 10 strikeouts. On Thursday, he became the youngest Giants pitcher to ever start a winner-take-all game and captivated a national audience with the type of performance rarely seen against a loaded Dodgers lineup.

“At every stage you’re asking yourself, is Logan Webb the best option to get the next three hitters out?” Kapler said. “And every inning that we sent him out there we felt like, yes, yes and yes, he just continued to be the best option.”

Right-hander Kevin Gausman was named an All-Star and was clearly the ace of the Giants’ staff through the first half of the season, but it’s a credit to Webb’s development that he ended the year with the club expecting to have the ball in his hands in the most important games of the season.

“This kid is special!” Gausman tweeted after Thursday's loss. “Happy and honored to get to watch what he did for us this season, bright bright future for this man!”

On the biggest stage he’s taken yet, Webb had the baseball world mesmerized.

Logan Webb. Over the next five years, I predict him to be a top 5/top 10 pitcher in the game, free-agent starter Marcus Stroman tweeted. His arsenal of pitches will be able to get outs forever. Movement and pitchability are more important than velocity ... especially over the course of an entire career. Bet heavy on Webb!

With fewer than 250 career regular-season innings under his belt, Webb’s major league journey is only beginning. The franchise that produced Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner has struggled for the last decade to draft and develop the next homegrown ace, but Webb’s end-of-season showings has left the organization convinced the torch has been passed.

A Giants front office led by Farhan Zaidi will spend much of the offseason rebuilding the team’s pitching staff and determining the best ways to add more depth to a starting rotation that could lose Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Johnny Cueto to free agency, but given Webb’s efforts, there's no need to look for the type of pitcher who can take the ball on opening day and set the tone for a staff over the course of a season.

They’ve got their man in Logan Webb. It’s his rotation now.

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