Wade Davis: A Saving Grace With Amazing Resilence
Wade Davis blew a save for the Rockies in what became an 11-10, 10-inning loss to the Brewers at Coors Field on Friday night.
It was headline material.
That type of thing, after all, has not happened to Davis very often since he earned his first save, with the Royals, on Sept. 5, 2014.
Early in his career, there was a hesitancy to take Davis out of a starting pitcher role because he had the four-pitch mix that makes scouts/coaches/teammates drool. The Royals, however, finally decided to look at him as a setup reliever, and then, when Greg Holland underwent Tommy John surgery, Holland emerged into the role on a full-time basis in the final months of 2015.
There's no debate, comparing the results, that Davis is a perfect fit in the bullpen.
Take Your Pick, Start or Relieve?
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The key is a short memory. If a closer has a bad game and it gets to him, he's in trouble. He has to be able to take the ball the next time the game is on the line and shut the door.
Davis gets it. Even a night like Friday has to be erased from the memory bank. This one seemed to be in the bank. Davis started off by striking out left-handed-hitting Travis Shaw. Then he got Jesus Aguilar to line to left. And then he had Hernan Perez 0-2.
But then Perez poked a single to left, and then Manny Pina floated an opposite-field home run over the scoreboard in right field and the Rockies 10-8 lead turned into a 10-10 tie. Davis got Orlando Arcia to ground out and end the inning, and then watched from the bench in the 10th when Shaw, facing Jake McGee, shot a two-out single into center field, scoring Lorenzo Cain from second base, and Brewers closer Josh Hader shut the Rockies down 1-2-3.
"There’s no room for mistakes," said Davis. "That’s what is frustrating."
He, however, quickly made it clear there is no time for pity.
"I’ll get over it," he said. "I feel more for the team, the way it played . The offense came out. Our defense played pretty good. That’s the frustrating part. Not the fact I didn’t make a pitch, but the fact we didn’t get a win."
And Davis has shown the ability to forget the bad nights quickly. He has eight blown saves in his career, seven since he earned his first save on Sept. 5, 2014. The first six times he failed in a save situation as a closer, he closed out a save when he got the call the next time. The seventh? Time will tell. Rest assured manager Bud Black won't hesitate to get Davis back on the mound was soon as the need arises.
Saving Grace: No Time for Hangovers
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What Davis knows is that the odds are in his favor.
He knows he made a mistake against Pina.
"I wanted to throw (the ball) down and away," he said. "I left it up and he put a good swing on it. ... I would say it’s a bad pitch. ... I felt comfortable with everything. We should have won. I threw a bad pitch that cost us the game."
Davis has been down the road before, and he knows while it is impossible to be perfect, the odds are in his favor if he stays aggressive.
"You get away with 90 per cent of the mistakes or more, I’d say," he said. "Not this night, though."
No, but there will be more. He has learned that with the success he has had since that first save on Sept. 5, 2014.
Even though he wasn't actually named the closer until the following August, since that third save he ranks third among MLB pitchers in save percentage, fourth in ERA, sixth in batting average allowed and tied for 10th with 93 saves.
The Late-Inning Elite in the Davis Era
Source: Stats, Inc.