With the Royals still in need of starting pitching, it is beginning to look more and more as though any reinforcements to the rotation will come from within the organization. While prospects such as Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura may be the favorites to win the final two spots in the rotation, former starters Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar are also expected to get a look as starters during Spring Training. Both Davis and Hochevar have fared much better as relievers than starters in their career, but given the depth in the bullpen, a transition back to the rotation could potentially make sense for either pitcher.
Yet, the idea of reinserting either pitcher into the rotation has been met as though the concept was the second coming of Nikola Tesla’s earthquake machine. While there has been, at the very least, some support for Hochevar getting another chance, the idea of Davis toeing the rubber to start a game is considered to be a cruel joke. After all, why insert someone into the rotation who was a total disaster last season in that very role?
Wade Davis certainly struggled as a starter for the Royals, going 6-10 with a 5.67 ERA in his 24 starts before being banished to the bullpen. His overall numbers last season, 8-11 with a 5.32 ERA and a 1.677 WHiP, were truly atrocious. To top off how bad Davis was as a starter, only 38% of his outings were considered ‘quality starts’ and he pitched six or more innings only ten times. With the concern that Duffy and Ventura could burn through the Royals bullpen, it would seem as though Davis was doing just that last season.
As much of a train wreck as Davis’s first season with the Royals had been, it is not hard to assume that he would have to be better going forward. In fact, his struggles in 2013 may have been a matter of bad luck. Davis gave up a .361 batting average on balls in play last year, which was compounded by a career low strand rate of 67.6%. With normalized luck in both, Davis may have had a much different 2013, as evidenced by his 4.15 xFIP.
Should Wade Davis be inserted back into the starting rotation, it may not be the complete disaster that 2013 had been. If he is able to produce at his expected levels heading into 2014, where he is predicted to 9-9 with a 4.24 ERA according to Steamer projections, would certainly be decent production from a fourth or fifth starter. If Davis can continue to strike out batters at the rate he did last season, where his 7.6 K/9 rate was the highest he has had as a starter, then Davis may be a solid bounce back candidate in 2014.
It has been thought that the Royals may look towards locating a reclamation project to take one of the two open spots in their rotation. As it turns out, they may already have that pitcher on the roster in Wade Davis.