Game 78 Recap: Dodgers 8 Brewers 1

On the heels of Junior Guerra’s eight inning shutout gem versus the Dodgers, Zach Davies had one of his worst starts of the season. It was an unfortunate start, as Davies failed to make it out of the fifth inning for just the second time this season.

Davies had also been on a nice 5 start run, where he struck out 36 batters and only walked 6. This start, Davies primarily struggled with the home run ball, giving up 3 in just 4 and a third innings pitched.

The top play of the game actually came on one of those unfortunate home run balls. This one came in the second inning when the Brewers were leading 1-0. Yasiel Puig was able to work a leadoff walk. The next batter was Trayce Thompson, and on the second pitch of the at-bat, Thompson crushed Davies’ offering deep to left center field to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.

Worst Play (WPA):
Davies was in some rocky waters from the very beginning. In first, he was to get the leadoff hitter quickly, as Chase Utley popped out. Corey Seager, however, followed with a to center field and then Justin Turner on a line drive to put runners on third and first with only one out.

This brought up Adrian Gonzales. Davies though was able to bear down and get Gonzales to pop out to shallow center field, meaning that no runs score as Seager didn’t try to tag home. Davies was then able to escape the frame by striking out Howie Kendrick.

Davies’s Home Run Numbers:
Davies has been one of the bright spots in the starting rotation. His 3.93 DRA ranks second among Brewers starting pitchers. With Junior Guerra, they’ve produced good value for a team in dire need of starting pitching help.

That said, pitchers like Davies are risky for a reason. His fastball averages around 89 MPH and there’s only a few pitchers in the league that can survive on that velocity. Usually, you need to have a good off-speed pitch and pinpoint command. Davies’s changeup is definitely a quality off-speed pitch, and he mixes his hard pitches well, with a cutter, sinker, and four-seam fastball to keep hitters from squaring up the ball.

Davies has shown thus far this season that he belongs in the big leagues, but pitchers such as Davies are only a few setbacks away from falling completely apart. Davies, as shown in this game, can be prone to giving up the long ball from time to time. Some might then try to point to his high HR/FB ratio at 13%, which is very high and for most pitchers that mark is unsustainable. Meaning those numbers should regress. But, for a pitcher like Davies, it may not be that unsustainable.

Basically, when Davies makes a mistake he’s probably more likely to get crushed than another pitcher because he can’t get by on velocity. For an example, just look at Dallas Keuchel, who won the CY Young last year despite having a 13.6 HR/FB ratio. This season, Keuchel is having a major setback, and no longer looks like a quality pitcher. He has also struggled with the home run ball, and his HR/FB rate this year is at 18.7, which is worse than last year. This doesn’t mean that Keuchel’s HR/FB ratio won’t regress, as even for a soft tossing pitcher that’s extreme. This does, however, mean that Davies’ HR/FB numbers are probably not all that irregular, at least when considering the type of pitcher he is.

It’s hard to get by on Davies’s velocity, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be able to do it. It just means that Davies will have to keep commanding and mixing his pitches well.

Coming Up Next:
The Brewers will be in action again tomorrow against the St. Louis Cardinals. Matt Garza will make his fourth start of the season and will look to improve on a misleading ERA. Garza’s ERA has been good this in his first three starts at 2.81, but he’s not striking out anyone at 4.5 K/9 and hitters have hit well against him with a .306 TAv against. This is basically propelling his underwhelming 4.49 DRA. Garza will have to find a way to improve in those aspects if he wants to have any type of success going forward.

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