Mr. Perfect: Wade Davis Set a Cubs Record for Consecutive Saves

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Mr. Perfect: Wade Davis Set a Cubs Record for Consecutive Saves

Chicago Cubs News

You’re a smart baseball fan.

You already know that the “Save” stat isn’t exactly an ideal way to evaluate the past and project the future performance of a closer, because it just doesn’t have that sort of correlative power.

But you’re also human. And sometimes, that means you can set aside advanced analytics, predictive power, and projected future performance and just enjoy the fact that the Chicago Cubs’ closer, Wade Davis, hasn’t just been good this season, he’s been perfect in a way no Cubs closer ever has before him.

And that’s freakin’ awesome:

After recording a fly out and two groundouts in the top of the ninth inning against the Pirates last night, Wade Davis converted his 27th consecutive save for the Chicago Cubs – a new franchise record (and he’s still the only closer with no blown saves this season (minimum: 3 saves)).

Here’s a look at his inning of work:

With that scoreless outing, Davis has now earned a 2.17 ERA, 3.37 FIP, and 3.84 xFIP on the season. His 12.8% walk rate is still uncomfortably high, but his 30.9% strikeout rate and .178 average against are both excellent.

Even more impressive, his contact management throughout the 2017 season:

Soft-hit Rate: 29.5% (3rd in NL, 5th in MLB)
Hard-hit Rate: 23.8% (6th in NL, 14th in MLB)

So, sure, Davis may give up some free passes, but he strikes out a ton of batters and is almost impossible to square up. Indeed, that’s probably why his 9.8% HR/FB ratio is reminiscent of the pre-juiced ball era (he’s allowed just 4 long balls this season). This solid contact management seems to be a trend with a lot of Cubs pitchers over the past few years, so I think it’s safe to say Theo and Jed may have a “type,” and Davis is one of those guys.

But despite remaining perfect, it’s no secret that Davis has gone through some struggles this season. In his last nine appearances, for example, he may have earned a 1.04 ERA, but also has 5.44 FIP (a 20.6 BB% is the main culprit). But he’s managed to sneak by, of course, because of the other things he does extraordinarily well. Like, for example, carrying a 60% ground ball rate during that stretch, to go along with a tiny 20.0% hard-hit rate and huge 30.0% soft-hit rate.

And that’s sorta the mark of a great pitcher, isn’t it? Even when some things aren’t quite working, you find other ways to get by. Davis has been a bit wild this season, to put it gently, but he’s inducing weak contact on the ground. And when you force batters into that sort of contact, there aren’t many ways they can succeed.

Wade Davis. Mr. Perfect. Let’s see if he can keep it up.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.