Long shot or not, Wade Davis still thinks he can be a starter
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For now, right-hander Wade Davis still considers himself a viable candidate for the Royals’ rotation.
And manager Ned Yost has dutifully said Davis will get every opportunity to win the job.
But realistically, it certainly appears Davis is a long shot to beat out Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy or Luke Hochevar for that final spot.
The Royals discovered last season what Tampa Bay found out previously — that Davis is just one of those pitchers who is more effective as a reliever.
Last season as a starter, Davis posted some cover-your-eyes numbers: a 6-10 record, a 5.67 ERA and a hideous 1.755 WHIP.
In his final two starts in late August before being jettisoned to the bullpen, Davis pitched 9 2/3 innings, gave up 16 hits and 11 runs, while walking five batters.
The Royals, who were clawing their way back into the playoff race at the time, simply couldn’t afford to keep Davis in the rotation any longer.
The switch to the bullpen, which came far too late in the eyes of many Royals fans, was an instant success for Davis, however.
In seven September relief appearances, Davis was 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA for the Royals. Add in a sterling 0.70 WHIP, too.
That, of course, followed a pattern in Davis’ career. As a starter, he has a 4.57 ERA with a 1.452 WHIP. As a reliever, he has a 2.24 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP.
Yet Davis refuses to believe his destiny is in the bullpen.
"I don’t think either (starting or relieving) is necessarily my calling," he says.
But wouldn’t’ the numbers suggest otherwise?
"It was a small sample size (last season) so it’s a hard question to answer," he says. "I think it’s in all of our natures to be the best we can be at whatever we’re doing. Can I do both? Yeah. But I still don’t think either one is necessarily my calling."
In his heart, Davis still believes he can win a job in the rotation.
"I’m definitely going in to start," he says. "I hope I get the opportunity to pitch and help this team win a lot of ballgames. I’m ready, probably more so than I ever have been."
Davis, who switched his number from 22 to 17 this year to honor his late step-brother who passed away unexpectedly last August, said he intensified his training this off-season.
"Last year was just such a crazy up and down year," he says. "It made me want to work harder this off-season. I think I’ve gotten a lot stronger and hopefully that will show up."
Davis can’t exactly explain what went wrong last season, or why he struggled so much as a starter. And he isn’t going to waste time, he says, trying to figure it out.
"No, it’s over," he says. "You move on."
And moving on doesn’t mean giving up on his dream.
"Right now, I want to be the best I can be as a starter," he says. "That’s my goal."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.