Kansas City Royals: “Wade”ing through batters!
With the early lose of Luke Hochevar to Tommy John Surgery, the Royals looked to be very vulnerable in the bullpen this year. After the first week or so, those fears became a little more real. However, since that time the Royals bullpen has settled in to what again is one of the best in the bigs! A major reason for that is the shut down ability of the new setup man Wade Davis.
Wade Davis seemed to be a throw-in player for the James Shields trade the Royals made prior to last year with Tampa Bay. A possible starter that was at the time working out of the Rays pen, Davis did not bring much fanfare with him. After starting the 2013 campaign in the starting rotation, it was soon apparent he was not a rotational guy. Following the tragic death of his brother in the middle of the 2013 season, he was moved to the pen, switching places with Bruce Chen. We all know how the story went after the All-Star Break for the boys in Blue, and some of that success was as a direct result of this move.
In the pen Davis seemed to be a good righty specialist, and long reliever. His pitch count had been lengthened as a starter so he was able to come in early in games if need be to tidy things up. He finished up the year at 8-11 with a 5.32 ERA. with 135 innings and 114 strikeouts.
As 2014 rolled around Davis was again going to attempt to compete for a starting role in the rotation. He lasted about two weeks, when Hochevar went down with the injury. He was shifted back to the pen, and has been an anchor in the back end ever since.
As it stands now, Davis is fourth on the Royals in strikeouts with 32 k’s. The only people in front of him are James Shields, Yordano Ventura, and Jason Vargas (all starts). In the 16 games Davis has appeared (The same number as all-star closer Greg Holland) he has thrown 17.1 innings, and has a K’s/9 rate of 16.62. That is the tops for the Royals. The next closest is Holland at 13.2 then Ventura at 9.8 (Both impressive numbers!).
If we were to push this out amongst league leaders he still is elite. If we look all pitchers with 10 or more innings pitched he is second behind Craig Kimbrel (17.58) who is almost unanimously regarded as the best reliever in the game. Another notable name on the list is Wil Smith at 13.5 (good for him, I still think that was a great trade).
If Davis can hold this rate up, he will be in some rarified air. Last season only Aroldis Chapman held a K/9 rate higher than Davis’ current number. And if you look back the past 3 years it is pretty much only Kimbrel that consistantly hits the 15 k/9 mark.
A telling example of just how good Davis has been this year came on Thursday when GMDM was dodging questions like a squirrel in traffic from 810 WHB’s host of the Program, Seren Petro. When asked who has better stuff Davis or Holland, GMDM didn’t really differentiate in the two’s ability. Stating that due to different physical traits they were hard to compare whose stuff was better.
This makes me feel like with Hochevar coming back next year, this years closer or setup man could make for some very valuable trade bait to try and clear up some salary for whomever we chose to re-sign/go get next off season!