It’s that time of year.
With the postseason looming, with the Cubs still battling for a playoff spot, and with the 8th inning a persistent source of concern, the time has come for Joe Maddon to deploy his top weapon – closer Wade Davis – a bit more aggressively.
Maddon says he’s talked to Davis about the possibility now of being used for more than just a traditional 9th inning save, which could include extended use from the 8th inning into the 9th inning (CSN). It’s notable that the two have had “the talk,” after last year’s attempts at getting the same usage out of Aroldis Chapman during the regular season did not go so well, and it was clear that Chapman preferred single-inning outings.
The plan is not to use Davis for multi-inning saves more than is absolutely necessary (Cubs.com), with only certain situations calling for it. You could imagine it happening as soon as today, though, with each of Mike Montgomery and Brian Duensing having pitched two innings yesterday. If, say, Carl Edwards Jr. or Pedro Strop were to get into trouble in the 8th inning today and the Cubs are clinging to a narrow lead, I think we’ll see Davis come into the game.
Fortunately, Davis’s usage so far this year, his first with the Cubs (and his first after multiple arm issues last year), has been fairly light. Davis is at 51 appearances and 49.1 innings so far this year, up slightly from last season, but down significantly from his 2014 and 2015 campaigns, when he averaged 70 appearances and 70 innings.
Preserving Davis’s best for this stretch run and then the postseason was always the hoped-for strategy, so, in that regard, well done, Cubs. Now hopefully he can be a beast the rest of the way.