Wade Davis: Best Reliever in Baseball

Wade Davis
Royals setup man Wade Davis has been the best reliever in all of baseball this season. Photo Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

An 8-2 record. A 0.77 ERA. 87 strikeouts in 58.1 innings. Two extra base hits allowed all season. Could this possibly be real?

These are numbers that your see in a video game. There is no way can anyone possibly put up these numbers and be this consistently good throughout the course of a full season.

But Wade Davis has been that good this season. He has been the best reliever in the game this year. He is not a closer. He was not an all-star.

That should change next season.

Davis came over along with James Shields and Elliot Johnson from the Tampa Bay Rays in Dec. 2012 in that blockbuster deal that sent Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to Tampa Bay. The Royals felt at the time that they were getting two starters in the deal. While James Shields has been all the Royals could have hoped for, Davis was sub-par as a starter a year ago. He finished the season 8-11 with a 5.32 ERA in 31 games (24 starts.) The Royals planned to put him back in the rotation this season but that all changed when Luke Hochevar required Tommy John surgery during spring training. Hochevar was the Royals’ setup man a year ago, and the Royals felt that replacing him with Davis would offset the loss.

It sure did.

Davis could very well be closing game next year. Whether that is for the Royals or not remains to be seen. They do have three club options on Davis, but they are for $7 million, $8 million and $10 million respectively. That could be a lot for a team like the Royals to pay for a guy that throws one inning, and not to mention Greg Holland will be getting a hefty raise in arbitration. Even if the Royals decide to move one (or both) of these guys this off-season and maximize their values, watching these two guys pitch at the end of a game has been special. It is almost a sure thing that the game is over if the Royals have a lead after seven innings.

This bullpen could look a lot different next season. But the Royals’ bullpen has been a strength for years. Their closers have been excellent in recent years, like Joakim Soria and Greg Holland. But right now, it is their setup man that has been historically good this season.

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