When the 2018 season closed, Wade Davis’ job was as secure as any closer in baseball. He had just finished leading the league in saves (43), setting the Rockies’ team record in the process.
He continued his successful run into the start of 2019, rattling off five straight saves with a microscopic 0.77 ERA. Then things started to get a little rougher. He completed his next save, but gave up two runs in the process. Then allowed a run in his next outing. From June 13-19, he gave up eight runs in four appearances. By the end of June, his ERA was up to 6.00 and many pundits were calling for his job to go to Scott Oberg, who was outpitching Davis by almost every metric.
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Oberg was officially given the job at the beginning of August after an ugly loss in which Davis gave up five runs in one-third of an inning. His record officially sat at 1-5 with a 6.82 ERA, and you’d like to think that that’s as bad as it would get … but you’d be wrong.
Davis continued to struggle in low-pressure middle relief outings that only pushed his ERA higher and higher. He finished out the year with two four-run debacles that left his ERA at an eye-poppingly awful 8.65, worth -1.3 WAR overall.
It’s possible that bad luck played at least a partial role in Davis’ collapse, as he had a higher-than-average .349 BABIP and lower-than-average 55.4% strand rate. His FIP and xFIP were 5.56 and 5.80, respectively. Those are not good marks, to be certain, but a far cry from his actual ERA.
The Rockies are on the hook for $17M for Davis’ services next season, which means that he’s almost certain to be on the roster to start the year. This is one of those seasons that went so bad you have to think some correction is in order, though at 34 years old, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see prime Kansas City Royals-era Wade Davis again.