Yessir, Wade Davis is ready to make a big-game impact with the Kansas City Royals.
That might as well have been the statement of intentions for the 27-year old hurler after his start on Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves. Let’s put it this way — there’s probably a pretty good chance that, had you been a Davis owner in fantasy baseball, that you probably would have strategically skipped this start.
After all, the Braves had come been seemingly unstoppable going into the game — an early-season league-best team firing on all cylinders, and poised to extend their winning streak by one more. If anything, Davis was set to be the victim of a short day of work.
Instead, the righty-hander took it as an opportunity to prove himself against the best, and show that this Royals team can win with their revamped pitching staff.
He did just that through seven innings of shutout baseball, out-dueling Mike Minor and leading his team to a 1-0 victory, allowing just a pair of baserunners on scoring position while holding them to seven hits, and striking out seven. What was particularly notable was that Davis didn’t issue a single walk, which allowed him to be efficient with his pitches, needing just 92 pitches go through his day.
That’s a stark contrast to his last time out on the mound, when he’d needed more pitches to go through five innings because of free passes.
Now, only three of his strikeouts were of the swing-and-miss variety, so he wasn’t exactly making batters look silly — in fact, some might even say that both he and Minor were aided by a generous strike zone.
Not that it should take away from his accomplishment, of course. The Braves are a dangerous team, and when they were were putting contact on the ball (88.5 percent strike zone contact), they were pounding it into the ground (2.00 GB/FB, 12.5 percent IFH).
Which is to say that Davis had his stuff working, regardless of the strike zone.
After opening the season with a disappointing four-inning debut, the righty has now quietly put up 12 innings of shut out baseball in his last two starts. An encore would make the buzz around both Davis and the 8-6 Royals difficult to ignore.