No matter what may happen this year, one of the positives Rays fans can point to as one of the Rays major success stories is Wade Davis. Tons of potential, Davis lost some mph on his fastball in an attempt to become more of a control pitcher and along the way lost his mentality and what got him here. In return, Davis' peripherals took a nose dive and so did his starting rotation spot.
Thanks to an abundance of pitching depth, the Rays had the luxury of moving Davis to the bullpen. While he started out in long relief, ala J.P. Howell, the goal was to give the Rays another late-inning option and hopefully Davis could return to his power-throwing ways.
Last night was the latest example of mission accomplished. Throwing in the upper 90's, Davis struck out 5 of the 6 batters he faced. In the second half of the season, Davis has turned into a dominant reliever. Consider this article from ESPN:
The return of Evan Longoria and the dominance of the Tampa Bay Rays starting pitching have been two of the primary reasons why the Rays have made a big push in the AL East standings over the last month.
But a recent surge by a noteworthy Ray may be a bit under the radar.
Davis When Wade Davis was demoted to the bullpen early in the season, he was often relegated to long relief.
Of late, he’s pitched in some more noteworthy situations, and his velocity has been lights-out.
Davis struck out five in two innings of relief in the win, as part of a bullpen effort of five innings with no runs and just one hit allowed.
It’s part of a Rays run in which their bullpen ERA is 1.39 since the All-Star Break. Fernando Rodney has racked up the saves with an 0.35 ERA. Davis is right behind him at 0.44, with 29 strikeouts and only one run allowed in 20 2/3 innings.
Wade Davis - 2012 Season
|First Half||Second Half|
|K per 9||9.4||12.6|
What have the differences been for Davis?
For one, he’s getting swings-and-misses against his fastball rather than yielding home runs with it.
In the first half, Davis’ heater got a miss about once every six swings, and four home runs were hit against the pitch when it was thrown in the strike zone.
Since the break, Davis is getting misses at a rate of just better than once every three swings, and of the 125 fastballs he’s thrown in the zone, none have been hit out of the park.
There’s been more hop to Davis’ fastball, which in the first half averaged 92.7 miles-per-hour.
That’s jumped to 94.2 MPH since the break. The 1.5 mile per-hour average velocity increase ranks 10th-best among anyone who has thrown a fastball in both halves.
Davis’ secondary pitches have also bumped up a bit, with his slider repeatedly reaching 90 miles-per-hour on the radar gun, making a similar jump to his fastball.
The last word on proof that Davis is in pretty good company at this point in the season?
He’s allowed only 24 percent of swings against him to be put in play in the second half of the season. No American League pitcher has a better rate in that time. Only three pitchers in the majors do—two of them are Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman."
That is some impressive company to be in. The question now is, what should the Rays do with Davis moving forward? Do they keep him in relief, perhaps as Rodney's replacement as closer after 2013? Do they move him back to the rotation, where ESPN's Jim Bowden feels he believes he should return? Can he still be a top 3 rotation arm the Rays thought he could be? Is it risky to move him back to the rotation? Should the Rays trade him?
What would you do with Wade Davis?