At the beginning of Spring Training, there was a bit of concern as to who would take over the eighth inning role, left open when Luke Hochevar needed to undergo Tommy John surgery. Wade Davis, who at the time was being considered for the fifth starter spot on the Royals Opening Day roster, was plucked from the rotation and sent back to the bullpen. As Davis had success in that role previously for the Tampa Bay Rays, and for the Royals at the end of the 2013 season, it was hoped that he would be able to help fill the void left by Hochevar.
As it turns out, not only has Davis filled that role vacated by Hochevar’s injury, but he has done so in a truly dominating fashion. While a lot of focus has been placed upon his incredible strikeout rate, as Davis has struck out 13.8 batters per nine innings heading into Friday’s outing, he has been truly remarkable in virtually every category this season.
Lately, Wade Davis has started to receive attention for his incredible ERA as well. Entering Friday night, Davis had posted a 0.81 ERA, having allowed only one run in his last 46 innings dating back to April 26th. For almost four months, Davis has posted an unbelievable ERA of 0.20. Even with his “struggles” at the start of the season, Davis has an ERA+ of 497, which currently ranks sixth all time for pitchers who have a minimum of 50 innings in a season.
Fueling that impressive stretch for Davis is the fact that, even when the opposition is making contact, they are not doing much. For the season, Davis has allowed a mere 28 hits, with just one extra base hit, a pinch hit double by Kurt Suzuki on July 31st. In an era when home runs are the norm, Davis has not allowed a single longball on the season. Of all the impressive feats Davis has performed this season, his ability to keep opponents from getting extra base hits may be the most stunning.
Wade Davis still has a lot of work to do if he is to catch up to Fernando Rodney, who posted a 0.60 ERA in 2012, good enough for an ERA+ of 641. To surpass that mark, Davis would need to pitch another 18.2 scoreless innings, or innings in which he did not give up an earned run, for the rest of the year. Considering that Davis has already put together two scoreless inning streaks of over 20 innings this season, that mark may not be out of the realm of possibility.
If the season was to end today, Wade Davis would still have put together one of the best seasons for a pitcher in baseball history. However, if Davis continues to dominate as he has over the past four months, he could be on the verge of a truly historic season.