Back when the Kansas City Royals acquired James Shields and Wade Davis from the Tampa Bay Rays, they had imagined that they had received two starters to fill out their rotation. Despite the overwhelming statistical evidence that Davis just should not be a starter, the Royals were determined to find out for themselves.
After 24 generally unproductive starts last season, the Royals moved Davis back to the bullpen. As he did during his excellent 2012 season in Tampa Bay, Davis excelled in the bullpen, posting a 0.90 ERA and a 0.700 WHiP in ten relief innings. Yet, heading into Spring Training, the Royals considered putting Davis back into the rotation.
When Luke Hochevar, those plans were scrapped. Wade Davis assumed the setup role that Hochevar had taken towards the end of last season. As his career 2.29 ERA, 1.052 WHiP and 2.71 K/BB ratio attest, the bullpen seems to be where Davis is most comfortable.
Although Davis did not have a good debut to his 2014 season, taking the loss on Opening Day, he has bounced back well. In his second outing, he struck out Miguel Cabrera to preserve the tie in the bottom of the ninth. Yesterday, he worked a perfect eighth, striking out two batters as he helped protect the lead.
Having given up Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi for Shields and Davis, it is understandable that the Royals would want to see Davis succeed as a starter. Yet, he is far more valuable for the Royals as a setup man than he is as a generally mediocre starter. No matter how much the Royals may have wanted to see Davis in the rotation, he is far better as a reliever.
Wade Davis is now in the perfect spot for what he has to offer the Royals. He simply belongs in the bullpen.