Wade Davis and the Quest to Replicate 2014


Wade Davis truly had a stellar year in 2014. From failed starter, Davis became the red bearded cyborg of dominance, turning the eighth inning into his personal playground as he befuddled the opposition with his practically unhittable cutter/fastball/curve combination. His 2014 season, when he posted a 9-2 record with a 1.00 ERA, a 0.847 WhiP and 109 strikeouts in 72 innings, even earned him three votes on the Cy Young ballot. It was truly a special year.

Naturally, with the Royals relying upon their bullpen as much as they did last year, especially the three headed monster of Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland, they need Davis to be able to perform close to last year’s marks. Following up that type of season is definitely not a lock, as Davis posted one of the better years of any reliever in baseball history, tying for tenth all time in ERA+ of any pitcher with 50 or more innings in a season.

However, if any pitcher can perform at that level for a second consecutive year, it may be Wade Davis. His first go around as a reliever, back in 2012 for the Rays, was also impressive, although not on 2014 levels. Sent to the bullpen due to the Rays rotational depth, he posted a 2.43 ERA and a 1.095 WHiP, striking out 87 batters in 70.1 innings. It is apparent that his role should be in the bullpen.

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Former Chicago Cubs closer Wade Davis hangs up his spikes
Former Chicago Cubs closer Wade Davis hangs up his spikes /

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  • Even if Davis is unable to match his performance in 2014, or even his 2012 performance for that matter, it may not be the problem it would have been last year. The Royals bullpen, instead of needing to have Davis, Herrera and Holland be almost perfect every night, has gotten much deeper. Jason Frasor will be around for the entire year, and Luke Hochevar is back. Even if Davis is not the strikeout machine he was last year, it may not matter with the improvements to the bullpen.

    However, it may be likely that Wade Davis continues to dominate in relief. He may not be the 2014 Davis, but he could end up somewhere between the performance he had in 2014 and 2012. A setup man with an ERA of around 2.00 and a 1.000 WHiP, striking out around twelve batters per nine innings, is still dominant. And that may be what the Royals can get from Davis next year.

    While it would be amazing if Wade Davis can replicate the 2014 season, down to not giving up a home run all year, it is just not likely. Yet, given the Royals bullpen depth, they may not need him to.