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Wade Davis’ career isn't supposed to end like this

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Saturday, September 19, 2020

Thursday was Wade Davis’ first game back following a 48-day stint on the injured list. He allowed a home run to his first batter.

Friday was Davis’ second game back: he allowed four earned runs in two-thirds of an inning.

His career isn’t supposed to end like this.

In 2014, Davis helped the Royals to the American League pennant. He allowed a single earned run over the entire postseason; with an ERA of 1.00 over 72 regular season innings, Davis established himself as one of the world’s top relievers.

Davis won the 2015 World Series with those same Royals, throwing the final pitch of the season. He was an All-Star that year, anchoring a Royals bullpen that held the best ERA in the American League. In 10 23 innings of postseason work, Davis shut out his opponents.

He returned to Kansas City in 2016, keeping a season ERA below two. He was shipped to the Cubs in 2017, and collected his third consecutive All-Star honor.

Colorado picked him up for the 2018 season. He posted his highest ERA figure in seven years, but he still managed to lead the National League in saves. He helped lead the Rockies past the wild card struggles that caught them the year before. It helped justify his acquisition—even if it was for one night.

A pitcher like this isn’t supposed to post an 8.65 ERA the following year. Wade Davis isn’t supposed to hold a 20.77 ERA in 2020. He was so good for so long, and held a track record the Rockies regarded highly enough for the largest reliever contract ever.

We may never know what exactly happened over his past two seasons—but we can at least recognize that when it comes to pitching performance, this could easily be the most difficult time in Davis’ professional career.

Davis wasn’t supposed to feel “in a rush” to leave the Coors Field clubhouse after the final game in 2019. Patrick Saunders shared a quote from Davis last fall after that game: “I’m going home to forget about everything that’s been negative this year.” “I’ll try to remember the positive things and I will get ready again.”

A closer is often advised to ‘flush’ a bad outing, or ‘let it go’, but with three years and $52 million breathing down your neck, it may suddenly be challenging to view even a lucrative contract as a positive thing. Pressures could surmount from every angle after his 2019 hardships.

We can hope that every reliever can have a late-career resurgence like Daniel Bard. If such isn’t the case for Davis, one can hope that the peace of mind from a World Series win and a series of All-Star campaigns can help erase the sour feeling from a double-digit ERA with the Rockies.

In 2018, Craig Edwards of FanGraphs wrote about expensive reliever contracts and several case studies on how those deals can pan out. The closer position at the big leagues can be a volatile, unstable position. Such a reality could be apparent in Davis’ next career move, as his contract is set to expire after this season. He could presumably land a minor league deal like Chris Owings did for spring training.

The Rockies have seen closer volatility firsthand: closers Wade Davis, Daniel Bard, Greg Holland, Jake McGee, John Axford, LaTroy Hawkins, Rex Brothers, Rafael Betancourt and Huston Street have all pitched for the Rockies within the past decade.

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Colorado Rockies morning after: A costly bullpen decision that raises even more questions | RoxPile

RoxPile’s Noah Yingling talks bullpen managerial strategy, and provides some insight on what Bud Black is working with when it comes to managing the 2020 bullpen.

The Rockies’ bullpen ERA remains the second-worst in baseball this year, which can really cause managerial strain. Colorado’ starters have been called upon for 5.48 innings per start this year, which is even more work than the Dodgers with the best starting pitcher ERA in the NL.

Rockies, Red Sox Complete Kevin Pillar Trade | MLB Trade Rumors

Boston sent Kevin Pillar to Colorado at the trade deadline in exchange for a player to be named and international pool money. The ‘player to be named’ has been named: right-handed reliever Jacob Wallace.

In January, Purple Row’s Jeff Aberle said he would “look for Wallace to start the year in High A Lancaster, with an outside chance of him getting bumped up to Double-A (or even Triple-A) by year’s end.” The minor league schedule took a different turn for everybody, of course.

Wallace played his college ball for the UConn Huskies from 2017-2019, pitching exclusively out of the bullpen. After being drafted in 2019 by Colorado in the third round, he continued his relief duties with the Boise Hawks. He made 22 appearances in the Rockies organization and recorded a 1.29 ERA; Boise was the only Rockies affiliate he played with.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts ‘took exception’ to Trent Grisham admiring home run off of Clayton Kershaw | CBS Sports

Tonight will be Clayton Kershaw’s first start since Trent Grisham took the inevitable Hall of Famer deep and riled up the Dodgers dugout. Kershaw has made eight starts this season and has allowed one run or fewer in five of them.

Kershaw’s fastball usage has seen a steady decline almost every year since his debut in 2008. It isn’t to say his recent velocity has declined, however; Kershaw’s fastball in 2020 is the hardest it has been in the past three years. He’s worked a near-equal mix of fastballs and sliders this year.

In his last start, Kershaw allowed three earned runs to the Padres over 6.1 innings. He allowed three earned to the Diamondbacks over five frames in the start prior.

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