by John Viril—
In his last two starts, Wade Davis showed he has learned how to strike out batters during his year in the bullpen. Wednesday’s 7 shutout innings with 7 strikeouts against the red-hot Atlanta Braves is ample evidence of his development. Davis’s dominance was the key factor in breaking Atlanta’s major-league leading 10-game win streak in a 1-0 Kansas City victory.
The only time Davis was truly threatened came in the 7th inning. Reserve infielder Chris Johnson hit a bloop double that landed just fair inside the right-field foul line. 2B Chris Getz nearly tracked down the pop-fly for a catch. He quickly grabbed the fallen ball in foul territory and fired to home plate. He easily nailed Juan Francisco—who tried to score all the way from first.
Atlanta’s desperate attempt to tie up a 1-0 deficit showed just how dominant Davis was all day.
Wade Davis’ newfound strikeout ability was also on display in his last start against MInnesota. In the second inning, a struggling Davis allowed the Twins to load the bases with no outs. He then struck out two consecutive batters and induced a weak pop up. Davis escaped the inning without allowing a run—a critical moment in what eventually turned out to be a 3-0 victory.
In his last two starts, Davis has not allowed a run in 12.0 IP and has struck out 13 batters. For the season, Wade Davis has an outstanding 2.25 ERA in 16.0 IP and 15 K’s. His 8.4 K/9 is a significant improvement over his 5.57 K/9 from his two seasons as a starting pitcher in Tampa Bay. In 2011, he moved to the pen. Davis’s K rate zoomed to 11.1. Apparently, he has been able to carry over that improvement in his move back to a starting role.
That’s very good news for Royals GM Dayton Moore. These early returns bode well for Wade Davis’s performance this season. They also make the WIl Myers trade look much better. As I stated before, Davis is the real key to the Myers deal. If Davis develops into an above average starting pitcher, his five years of club control make giving up prospects like Myers, Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery much less painful. The Royals now stand a very respectable 8-6 after 14 games—a record driven mostly by solid starting pitching. Wade Davis and fellow trade acquisition James Shields have been a large part of that resurgence.
After only three starts, however, Davis’s performance is nothing more than a hopeful sign. There’s still a long way to go before we can say that Davis has transformed himself into an better-than-average starting pitcher.