On Monday morning, a day after being passed over for baseball’s mid-summer showcase of its best, Royals reliever Wade Davis ventured to a nearby beach and went fishing. He basked in the sun and the familiar surroundings of his former home. His snub from the All-Star Game did not dampen his mood.
“It’s cool that I’m even in the conversation,” Davis said on Monday afternoon. “That’s all you can ask for.”
A few hours later, Davis reminded why he has become one of the sharpest relievers in baseball. He wiped out a trio of Rays in a spotless, 10-pitch inning. He buzzed a 97-mph fastball past catcher Ryan Hanigan. Two batters later, he iced outfielder Desmond Jennings with a cutter that caught the upper edge of the strike zone’s far corner.
It was a dominant performance. But it was also the eighth inning. Because he is not a closer, Davis explained before the game, he was not shocked he would have a four-day vacation next week.
Davis understood he was a long shot for inclusion. Space on the roster is limited, and set-up men rarely make the team. Only one non-closing reliever earned a spot. That was Yankees rookie Dellin Betances.
Betances has a 1.55 ERA in 52 1/3 innings, and leads all qualified relievers with 2.0 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs. He strikes out 40.3 percent of the men he faces, with 13.59 strikeouts per nine. He stabilized the Yankees bullpen as he bulldozed the American League East.
“He’s having a pretty incredible year,” Davis said.
So, of course, is Davis. He has thrown 14 2/3 fewer frames than Betances. But his peripheral numbers are just as impressive: A 40.5 strikeout percentage, 14.34 strikeouts per nine and a 1.19 ERA.
He still has a chance to make the All-Star squad as a last-minute replacement. But Davis doesn’t expect to fret about it.
“The fact that I’ve been asked that question a couple of times is pretty cool,” Davis said. “Somebody thinks I’m doing good. So that’s cool.”
FROM THE STAR
Inside the ballpark he once called home, James Shields reminded why the Royals gave up so much for him in the first place.
I conducted a chat, and shouted-out a pizza place in Maple Glen, Pa.
THE ROYALS’ PLAYOFF PERCENTAGE (ACCORDING TO BASEBALL PROSPECTUS)
HERE IS SOME ROCK MUSIC
“Transient Love” by The Menzingers.