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Did Wade Davis Change His Approach?

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Maybe it's time we approach your starts a bit differently, Wade.
Maybe it's time we approach your starts a bit differently, Wade.

If you, Rays fans, are anything like me then you probably watch just about every single Rays game that is televised throughout the year. One of two things usually happen when you watch one team this often: you either grow numb watching the same thing over and over again and harp on the mistakes of a certain player or you astutely notice when a player has made a change in the way he plays or approaches the game.

I usually fall under the first one and like to complain about the same thing over and over again until my wife threatens to get me therapeutic help because I apparently argue and complain to myself a lot. But every once in a while I notice a certain change in a way a player approaches the game and I think Wade Davis has a new approach that may actually be working.

When he returned from the disabled list back on July 22nd he still looked like the same pitcher, and we saw the same results. He gave up 11 hits and 5 runs in 5.1 innings. His second start was more of the same with 5 runs and 6 hits allowed in 6 innings. The velocity in those starts was right in line with what he had been doing all season and his pitch selection was about the same as well. Take a look at his pitch f/x data from the start of the season to his last start in July:

 Pitch Type  Count  Selection  Velocity
 4-Seamer  928  49.9%  91.3
 2-Seamer  282  15.2%  90.1
 Curveball  263  14.1%  78.0
 Slider  201  10.8%  85.6
 Change-Up  187  10.0%  85.9


His results to that point in 115.0 innings are a 4.62 ERA, 4.38 K/9, 2.97 BB/9, 1.17 HR/9, and 10.17 H/9. Now take a look at his data from August on:

 Pitch Type  Count  Selection  Velocity
 4-Seamer  243  56.1%  92.4
 2-Seamer  68  15.7%  89.7
 Curveball  81  18.7%  78.1
 Slider  32  7.4%  85.0
 Change-Up  9  2.1%  86.6

Davis appears to have ditched the change-up and now relies much more heavily on his 4-seamer, which has an extra 1.1 mph on it, and his curveball. The results look much better in those 30 innings with a 3.00 ERA, 6.60 K/9, 2.70 BB/9, 0.90 HR/9, and a 6.60 H/9. His line-drive rate dropped from 19% to 16% and his groundball/flyball rate has made a small jump from 0.57 to 0.66 and is nearly 1:1 over his last two starts.

The data may be in a small sample but it is refreshing and something to look forward to when Wade Davis pitches again. It appears he has a brand new approach and the results are giving me hope that the #2 starter potential we all saw when he was a top prospect is coming to fruition.