Chicago Cubs: Wade Davis has walked tightrope during recent appearances
By Tim Stebbins
Although he not blown a save, Chicago Cubs’ closer Wade Davis has made things interesting when on the mound lately.
Don’t get me wrong, Wade Davis has been excellent during his first year with the Chicago Cubs. As of Friday, the 31-year-old closer has converted all 24 of his save opportunities; he has a 2.31 ERA in 39 innings to go along with 53 strikeouts.
While Davis’ numbers are impressive, he has been less sharp at times than he was during the first half of the 2017 season. During 31 games (30 innings) in the first half, Davis posted a 1.80 ERA, allowing just seven runs (six earned).
In nine games (nine innings) in the second half, he has a 4.00 ERA, allowing four runs (all earned). This sample size is small, of course, but Davis’ numbers show he has not been as sharp as the early stages of this season.
Realistically, one should not worry about Davis allowing runs in an outing here and there. As of Friday, he is the only MLB pitcher with 20+ saves that has converted every single save opportunity. The fact that he has allowed a few runs lately should not matter when this is the case, essentially.
Saves have not been easy as one, two, three
What does matter, though, is how tough it has been for Davis to convert a save during his recent chances. Of his past four appearances with a save, Davis has thrown at least 21 pitches (28, 25, 21 and 30, respectively). During those four games, he has walked two, two, one and one batter, respectively.
Outside of save opportunities, Davis was awarded the loss against the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 3rd. With the game tied at eight in the top of the ninth inning, Davis allowed two runs on four hits. The biggest blows in that game were back-to-back home runs he surrendered to Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez.
In all honesty, one should not look too deeply into how Davis has performed during the second half. The fact of the matter is that he has been excellent during his first season with the Cubs. After all, his ERA is more than respectable and he has yet to blow a game for the team.
Closers generally are not perfect
During his time as Cubs’ closer in 2014-2016, Hector Rondon went 29-33, 30-34 and 18-23 in save chances, respectively. Similarly, Aroldis Chapman went 16-18 in save chances during his short stint with the Cubs in 2016.
Point being, closers go through slumps in their own right, just like other baseball players do. While Rondon was exceptional as a closer, Chapman is considered to be one of the best (if not the best closer) in the MLB. Despite this being true, he finished last season with three blown saves and currently has three in 2017.
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All in all, Davis has had his fair share of issues on the mound lately, yet none have resulted in a blown save. Even with high pitch counts and allowing base runners like he has as of late, one should not look too deeply into his “struggles” at this time.