Chicago Cubs must bring back closer Wade Davis this offseason
By Tim Stebbins
Thursday night’s win over the Milwaukee Brewers perfectly exemplified why the Chicago Cubs must re-sign Wade Davis this offseason.
Wade Davis has come up big for the Chicago Cubs time after time again this season. Thursday night may have been his best act to-date.
Davis entered a 3-3 game in the bottom of the ninth inning, inheriting a runner on first base with one out. The game looked to be all but over; Davis hit Ryan Braun with a pitch and gave up a single to Travis Shaw to load the bases.
Manager Joe Maddon brought Ian Happ in from the outfield to form a five-man infield. Instead of a walk-off hit for the Brewers, though, Davis worked his magic. First, he struck out Domingo Santana for the second out. Davis bounced back after falling behind in the count 3-1 against Orlando Arcia. With the game on the line, he got Arcia to hit a harmless ground ball to him, ending the inning.
Kris Bryant hit a two-run home run in the tenth inning, giving the Cubs a 5-3 lead. Davis returned to the mound for the tenth inning, striking out the side in order to seal a Cubs’ victory.
Davis dominant once again
Despite not earning a save, Davis must be recognized for keeping the Cubs’ hopes alive on Thursday. On the one hand, 20 Cubs played in Thursday’s game and many deserve their share of recognition for the win.
At the same time, Davis pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Not only did he preserve a 3-3 tie, but also a 5-3 lead and ultimately a win for the Cubs. He looked composed his entire outing, even with the game on the line multiple times in the ninth inning.
Although Davis has had a shaky outing once in a blue moon this season, he has been the Cubs’ most reliable reliever since Opening Day. Moments like Thursday are just a microcosm for his season as a whole. With that being the case, the Cubs must re-sign him when he hits free agency this winter.
Davis is 4-1 with a 1.95 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 56 games (55.1 innings) this season. Furthermore, he is a perfect 32-for-32 in save opportunities; of all relievers with at least ten saves this season, Davis is the only one without a blown save.
Davis still more-than capable while team prepares replacement
At 32, Davis should still have a fair share of impactful seasons left in him. The Cubs could give him a three or four-year extension and have enough time to find their next long-term closer.
Carl Edwards Jr. was shaping up to be the Cubs’ closer of the future after starting 2017 strong. However, he also posted a 5.40 ERA in 12 June outings and a 6.35 ERA in 14 August outings. Though these might just be blips on the radar, this could also suggest that Edwards could afford some more grooming.
The Cubs acquired Justin Wilson from the Detroit Tigers in July to boost their bullpen for not only 2017, but also 2018. The idea is that the Cubs will have an insurance closer option if Davis does leave after this season. If Davis does re-sign, Wilson could help anchor the back-end of the team’s bullpen instead.
Unfortunately, Wilson has struggled during his brief time with the Cubs. Not only does he have a 6.28 ERA in 19 appearances (14 1/3 innings), but he has walked 16 batters as well. For the sake of comparison, Wilson had a 2.68 ERA and just 16 walks in 42 appearances (40 1/3 innings) with the Tigers.
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Between Edwards needing more grooming, Wilson’s struggles, and the bullpen’s up-and-down season as a whole, Davis is invaluable to the Cubs. If Thursday’s game has taught the team anything, it is that they must do all they can to bring Davis back for 2018 and beyond.