Due to the limited nature of their appearances, relievers can have some really rough numbers early on. That said, Wade Davis’s 19.64 ERA is enough to have even the most laid-back, FIP-focused fan tasting the remnants of their dinner as it rises to the back of their throat.
And if your stomach hasn’t lurched already, how about if we look his 3.82 WHIP and .474 batting average against? I mean, sure, that’s only based on 3.2 innings of work, but…woof.
Is it time to start branding the Jorge Soler trade a bust? Well, maybe not when the big Cuban is slashing .143/.254/.286 with a 32.7 percent strikeout rate.
Now that we’re through overreacting to spring stats, let’s hear from a man who isn’t worried at all about what he’s been seeing.
“You’re not going to believe this, but he’s actually throwing better than he normally does in spring training,” Joe Maddon reasoned. “The biggest problem he’s having right now is command.”
We usually think of control as being reflected in walk numbers, but it’s about so much more than that. After all, leaving a pitch over the heart of the plate can be far worse than having it fade too far inside or outside. Davis has clearly been serving up too many meatballs, but there have been encouraging signs hidden beneath the gaudy results.
“He’s throwing the ball really well easily,” Maddon said of his closer. “That’s what’s really encouraging to me. From the side, there’s no bumping and grinding and [grunting noise]…there’s none of that. It’s easy. I look up at the gun and I’m seeing 94, 95 and sometimes 96. It’s like: Wow, I have never seen him do that in camp.”
I don’t see nothin’ wrong with a little bump and grind, though I admit that I do prefer my pitchers’ arms moving free and easy. The key for Davis may be situational, getting into a legit 9th-inning setting and drawing on it for the focus required to perform when the game is on the line.
For his career, which includes time as a starter, Davis has performed appreciably better in high-leverage situations. His K-rate is higher, his WHIP is lower, and his BABIP and batting average against are also depressed. And we’re talking in the neighborhood of 20-30 percent improvements here, folks.
No amount of rationalizing and theorizing can massage Davis’s actual numbers this March into anything that look good to the average observer, but the underlying data tells us we’ll see much better production come April and beyond.
Zobrist returning to action
You know your team is good when the World Series MVP sits out a week with a stiff neck and no one really notices. Zobrist has been taking BP and going through other activities and says the time off was only precautionary. He’ll likely be back in action Monday night or Tuesday afternoon as the Cubs enter the final stretch of the exhibition season.
Of all the weird little nuances of Spring Training, I think the extreme caution with injuries is my least favorite. Not because I don’t understand it or think all these snowflakes should toughen up and be real men like they were in my day, just that you get a Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf situation every time a guy winces or takes an awkward step. It’s hard enough when your access to visual information is limited, so having someone lifted for a pinch runner or scratched from the lineup can be cause for more concern than is warranted.
And that’s for someone who prides himself on not taking things too seriously, so I can’t imagine how any of you high-strung folks manage.
More news and notes
- Bronson Arroyo is expected to make the Reds’ rotation, which means a few inexplicable losses for the Cubs.
- Daniel Bard, the former Red Sox setup man who was in camp with the Cubs two years ago, has adopted a lower arm slot and is expected to open the season with the Cardinals’ AA club.
- The Indians may be working on a big extension for Francisco Lindor. The source? GM Mike Chernoff’s six-year-old son.
- Yoan Moncada, a big piece in the Chris Sale trade, will open in AAA and could stay down until at least mid-May (to give the White Sox an extra year of control) or even mid-July (to avoid Super Two status). It’s similar to the Kris Bryant situation, only without the hype.
- Fanatics has a bunch of Cubs World Series merch at least 20% off and orders of $40 or more ship free with code “40SHIP.”
- MLB.com has the full “Gold Collection” of jerseys, hats, and more; free shipping on orders of $50 or more