Cubs

What's the issue with Wade Davis right now?

Cubs

Wade Davis is still having a perfect season.

Let's get that out of the way right now. 

The Cubs closer is 23-for-23 in save chances and despite some hiccups lately, has always found a way to get the job done.

But he's also shown he's mortal, giving up eight runs over his last 16.2 innings dating back to June 11. In that time, Davis is also allowing nearly two baserunners an inning on average, surrendering 18 hits and an alarming 12 walks.

Davis suffered the loss Thursday in The Willson Contreras Game when he gave up a pair of homers to Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez in the top of the ninth. Two days later, Davis walked a pair of batters before striking out Bryce Harper on his 30th pitch to end the game and halting a three-game losing streak.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon believes a 30-minute rain delay might've contributed to Davis' problem Thursday, when he gave up two homers in a relief outing for the first time in his career.

But even apart from that outing, Davis has looked off over the past couple months after boasting an 0.84 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in his first 22 appearances.

"I just think he's trying to be too fine early in the count," Maddon said. "He can throw a strike whenever he wants to. I've always felt that way about him. And you can see it. His stuff's the same.

"He's just a little bit off with the relief point. You can constantly see him trying to figure out at the end of his delivery. But I've always seen that. This is nothing new for me with him. I have a lot of faith in him."

 

Maddon has known Davis since the lanky right-hander came into the league in 2009 as a starting pitcher with the Tampa Bay Rays. Maddon thinks maybe Davis is reverting back to that starter's mentality and trying to be too perfect early, subsequently falling behind 1-0 or 2-0 consistently.

Davis, however, scoffed at that notion.

"No. Not even close. There's never any time where I'm trying to be too fine with anything," Davis said. "Sometimes you just go through slumps, I guess.

"I'm never trying to be too fine. I'm always trying to pitch aggressively in the zone. Sometimes it just doesn't go there."

Davis is a cerebral guy who is always thinking and adapting along with the game. He compared his issues right now with a hitter going through a slump at the plate — just the natural ebb and flow of baseball.

"Just different timing," he said. "Earlier in the year, my stuff wasn't as good, but my timing was really good. Now, my arm feels strong and better, but my timing is off from time to time."

Davis said he's had this kind of issue every year of his career, but also typically gets stronger as the season goes along and his arm feels better now than it did even in April and May when he had a 0.00 ERA.

But all along, whether he's going good or bad, Davis is the exact same guy. Same temperment, same body language, same mood. 

"He's mellow, man," Maddon said. "That's who he is. You talk to him as he's coming off the field after the game's over and he's barely breathing. That's just who he is.

"He's a very calm player. He's always been that guy from spring trainings to the middle of the season to shooting a black bear in Toronto."

That calm demeanor has helped Davis become one of the elite closers in the game. Even if the tying run is 90 feet way, he has the same level of confidence in his stuff and abilities.

He also doesn't pump his fist after big outs or nailing down clutch saves. He maintains an even keel in the middle of the road.

"I try to," he said. "As soon as you think you're good, then you get your ass kicked. And when you're going bad, you're not nearly as bad as you think you are.

"You wanna be in your own shoes, stay in your own lane."