Nerves, jitters, and butterflies, these are a few of the things players making their major league debuts have to deal with. What’s the best way to get rid of those feelings of insecurity? By striking out the side to start your major league career of course.
Wade Davis did just that yesterday against the Detroit Tigers. A (somewhat) local product, Davis’ jitters were likely intensified pitching in front of family and friends – insert your joke here about how those folks made up the majority of the Rays crowd – and fell behind to the first batter with a pitch outside and low. He’d come back and retire Curtis Granderson on a swinging strikeout and then catch paint to retire Ramon Santiago. Carlos Guillen would suffer a similar fate and just like that Davis’ career innings total registered in at one.
He came out for the second and struck out Miguel Cabrera swinging. Aubrey Huff would homer and the realization that Davis wouldn’t pitch a perfect game set in. He then struck out the next two batters. At the end of the day Davis wound up with seven completed innings, nine strikeouts, a single walk, and one earned run.
Davis threw 100 pitches, 12% of which were whiffed at, 10 of those hacks were at fastballs. Davis threw 71 of them and saw the pitch average 92 MPH and touch 94.4. He threw a handful of change-ups that sat about 10 ticks lower, two handfuls of sliders that sat around 85-86, and nearly three handfuls of curves that sat in the high-70s. Davis failed to induce a swing and miss on the pitch, but it showed good vertical drop as portrayed in this gif (courtesy of Baseball-Intellect.com)
For a team that dealt what many considered their ace just a week ago, having Davis come up with a solid showing will (if nothing else) show they possess some idea of what they’re doing. For Davis himself, this undoubtedly will cause some helium in his public perception despite only being one start. Nobody should expect this every time out, but it’s a feel-good story of a local kid pitching in his first game the day before his 24th birthday against a playoff team. Coincidentally, Edwin Jackson was on the mound for the Tigers. He knows better than anyone what a good debut can do for your stock.