Zach Davies gets the ball for the Cubs on Monday night in Atlanta, looking to get things back on track after a pretty rocky start to his time with the team.
In his first four starts, Davies carries a rotation-worst 8.80 ERA and after lasting 5 2/3 innings in his debut back on April 4, he’s failed to pitch into the fifth in his next three outings. He’s walked three batters on a trio of instances and hasn’t looked anything like the guy who broke out with the Padres last season.
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So what’s gone wrong for the right-hander? After pulling back on his sinker usage last year, instead mixing in more change-ups, Davies has largely reverted back to what he did earlier in his career – and the results speak for themselves. Clearly, the Cubs and Davies have data we don’t. There’s a reason for the decision to throw this specific pitch mix. But given the results, it’s worth wondering if we’ll see him start to more closely replicate what he did with San Diego in 2020.
On the year, opposing hitters are batting .357 against Davies’ sinker – and .296 against his change-up, the two of which account for roughly 85 percent of his pitches. Clearly, that’s not going to lead to much success.
The 42.1 percent hard-hit rate would be the worst of the 28-year-old’s career. Paired with a strikeout rate that ranks in the bottom five percent of all qualified arms and it’s not hard to see where things are going wrong for Davies right now.
Cubs can’t succeed without Zach Davies pitching well
As the only big league piece that came back in the Darvish trade, this guy needs to be a quality piece of the puzzle in 2021. In a contract year, he should be motivated not just to help the team but selfishly, as he’ll test the free agent waters for the first time this winter – assuming Chicago doesn’t extend him before then.
There’s still a lot of baseball left to be played, but the Cubs’ starting rotation has been a huge issue in the first three weeks and getting Davies sorted out would go a long way toward addressing that moving forward.