For the third night in a row, Tampa Bay Rays out-pitched the Chicago White Sox, winning Wednesday night’s game 4-1. The Rays got offense in the form of a two-run homerun from John Jaso in the second inning, and then run-scoring doubles from Casey Kotchman and Matt Joyce later in the game. Meanwhile, Carlos Quentin provided the White Sox with their only run of the game, hitting a solo homerun off Wade Davis in the sixth inning.
Davis continued his trend of increased control and lowered velocity, supporting the theory that he’s sacrificing pitch speed in order to better locate his pitches. While this strategy has seemingly worked on the surface – he did only allow eight baserunners and one run today – I’m skeptical of it will work for him in the long run. Erik Hahmann from DRaysbay explains:
As for Davis, his new philosophy of throwing softer and pitching more to contact worked once again, but I’m still weary on how long this will last. On the night, Davis’ fastball averaged 90.74mph, a good 2mph slower than his average last season. Even with the slower velocity he was able to throw it for a strike 75% of the time tonight. His control has been excellent – he allowed his first home run of the season tonight – which has provided him the ability to use the diminished fastball effectively. On the other hand, the Rays have been making excellent defensive plays behind him to save some hits. If Davis really has figured out something that will help improve his game then I’m behind it 100%, but I’d like to wait until we get a greater sample to make any definitive statements.
Maybe these changes really will help Davis, but not many pitchers can consistently post a low ERA while only striking out a handful of batters per game. Davis is pitching to contact more than I’d like to see, and the Rays’ defense saved him from allowing runs on a few occasions last night (like Matt Joyce’s amazing catch in the fifth inning). If Davis can dial it up and get a strikeout when needed, why doesn’t he simply do that more often?
But then again, this may be a good step in Davis’ overall development as a pitcher. If Davis is learning how to pitch instead of just throw, then it may allow him to take his game to the next level whenever he decides to let it rip again. And at the moment, Davis’ new strategy is working and I certainly can’t complain about that.
The Rays go for the sweep tomorrow against the White Sox, with Jeff Niemann facing Gavin Floyd at 6:40 PM.
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