Khris Davis has been to the plate 17 times in four games played. He doesn’t have a hit.
That’s bad news for a designated hitter.
Davis has had a miserable start to this 60-game regular season, going 0-for-15 with seven strikeouts. He has grounded into two double plays. He has touched first base twice thanks to a pair of walks. And that’s it to this point.
Tuesday’s 8-3 loss was Davis’ worst game to this point considering the context of his at-bats. He had at least one runner in scoring position every time he stepped to the plate and went 0-for-4.
He popped out with the bases loaded to end the first. He struck out swinging with runners on second and third to end the third. He grounded into a double play with two runners on to end the fifth. Then he struck out with two on in the eighth.
That’s one bad night at the ballpark.
“He’s pressing some,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said after the game. “If you watch his [batting practice] it’s good, but it has to transfer to the game. It’s a little bit of a struggle for him right now. He’s going through a tough stretch.”
Melvin wouldn’t say whether Davis will play Wednesday afternoon heading into Thursday's off day, but it might be time to let him take stock and come back against the Mariners on Friday.
Let’s not forget that Davis led major-league baseball with 48 home runs in 2018, can get scalding hot over a prolonged stretch and carry a team on his back. The A’s remember well him doing exactly that down the stretch in 2018, when others were far less steady.
Though an 0-for-15 stretch might not be a major issue over 162 games, it feels bigger with just 60 games to play. Everything is magnified, every win is important, and the A’s can’t give opportunities away with runners on while trying to quickly stack as many wins as possible.
It still seems super early to start panicking over an awful start. Davis has been too good for too long to be dismissed at such an early stage. A multiple-hit game might be all it takes to get Davis rolling again, but the slide needs to stop soon.
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Melvin has stated he’ll go with hot hands, as we’ve seen with Chad Pinder in the early going. The opposite can apply to the ice-cold. Fail to make the most of plate appearances and you might see less. That rule isn’t quite the same for the established.
“I’ve said all along that leashes can be a little bit shorter when you struggle,” Melvin said. “In 60 games, it’s like being in August right now. Some of the guys who have track records deserve a little bit of a longer leash. Certain guys need a day off, maybe a couple of days potentially, or a different look. He has been really good for us over the years. He had a bit of a tougher time the second half of last year and he has gotten off to a tough start this year.”
Davis saw his 2019 production dip due to a hip injury that was far worse than he let on, an ailment that can sap power from even the steadiest home-run hitters. Davis had just seven home runs from July through that regular season’s end, an outage unlike any the A’s have seen since he joined them prior to the 2016 season.
Davis said during training camp that he was feeling good physically entering the season and has made some contact without anything to show for it.
“You want to get that first hit,” Melvin said prior to Tuesday’s game. “Sometimes you can press a little bit. He did have a couple of good at-bats and had a couple where he struck out (in early games) where he’s searching for a rhythm. When you’re 0-fer to start and you hit some balls hard it does get a little frustrating.”