Brad Bergesen Blanks Rays, Wade Davis Pitches Clunker

Wade Davis and Brad Bergesen face off in the second game of the weekend series between the Rays and the Orioles.

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Brad Bergesen Blanks Rays, Wade Davis Pitches Clunker

Am I being too liberal with the word clunker? Possibly, but I don’t care: Wade Davis has pitched poorly his last two times out, and both of those starts came against the Orioles. Yes, that’s the same Orioles that currently have the 6th worst offense in the major leagues. Davis gave up four hits and five walks against them last time (in only 5 innings), and this time out he managed to do a bit worse: seven hits, three walks, two homeruns, and four earned runs in only 5.1 innings.

I’m not exactly sure what Davis’ problem is, but it’s not getting any better. At the beginning of the year it looked like he was sacrificing some velocity for improved command, but while his velocity is still down (averaged 90 MPH tonight; 92 MPH last season) his control hasn’t necessarily improved. Tonight, he left lots of pitches over the middle of the plate, missed his locations, fell behind in the count to a decent number of hitters, and didn’t seem to have enough bite to his pitches to finish anyone off once he got to two strikes (only 4 swinging strikes all night). This isn’t a one night thing either; Davis is throwing considerably fewer strikes and first-pitch strikes this season, which is not an encouraging trend.

I don’t like the new Wade Davis. I wasn’t a fan during his first few appearances this season, and I’m even less of a fan right now. His pitches all look worse out there; he’s not getting his slider to bite as much, and his fastball is pretty mediocre without its added zip. The one encouraging sign for me is that Davis threw around 15 curveballs tonight, which was always his dominant pitch in the minor leagues. If he can get back to using that more often, maybe it’ll help him get more whiffs and strikeouts. Because right now, something needs to change or else things are going to keep getting ugly.

Game Notes:

- Brad Bergesen deserves a lot of credit for the way he pitched tonight. He kept the ball low in the zone the entire game, forcing the Rays to hit into 13 groundball outs, and he pounded the zone with around strikes (66%). He’d struggled against the Rays last weekend, leaving the ball high in the zone and allowing the Rays to clobber him for nine hits in 4.2 innings, but he was on top of his game tonight. Tip of the cap to him, and hopefully we don’t see too much of this Bergesen in the future.

- I missed the very end of the game due to dinner, but ouch…Adam Russell’s line was pretty awful. Allowing three hits and two walks while only getting four outs? That’s no way to protect your roster spot, with J.P. Howell returning soon (ETA: Wednesday).

- On the opposite side of the spectrum, Brandon Gomes recorded three strikeouts today.

- Not much to talk about about re: the Rays’ offense. Zobrist and Upton were the only ones that showed much life, both hitting solid doubles, but the rest of the offense was pretty sluggish. The Rays left a lot of runners on base early in the game, stranding runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings. With just a few well-timed hits, this could have been a very different game….but sadly that didn’t happen.

- Hold onto your hats, folks – it’s Andy Sonnanstine versus Jake Arrieta tomorrow in the series finale. C’mon Andy, we can’t drop two of three to the O’s at home. We’re counting on you.

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Tampa Bay Rays Vs. Baltimore Orioles: Wade Davis Looks To Improve Against O's

After Jeremy Hellickson's complete game shut out against the Orioles last night, Wade Davis will have his work cut out for him to match that performance. He'll be facing off against Brad Bergesen in an afternoon game (4:10 PM) today at the Trop.

Wade Davis (3.07 ERA, 4.07 FIP) had a rough time against the Orioles during his start last weekend, allowing three runs in five innings while walking five and only striking out three. He averaged nearly two baserunners per inning, and was lucky in the end to escape with only allowing three runs. It was an off performance for Davis this year, as he has lowered his velocity to give him increased control for the most part, and he won't be able to continue succeeding with this wildness if his strikeout rate doesn't increase. Tonight will be a bit of a test for him, as we see how Davis adapts to the O's after a week and if he can improve his control or not.

Facing Davis is Brad Bergesen (5.57 ERA, 4.32 FIP), a 25 year old right-handed pitcher that succeeds by limiting walks and inducing a high number of groundballs. So far this season he only has a 35% groundball rate, though, and that will need to come up if he wants to have success in the majors. In his start last weekend against the Rays, Bergesen got hit around, allowing five runs and nine hits in just 4.2 innings. This is a good match up for the Rays, and we'll have to see if their hitters can continue to take advantage of Bergesen.

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