SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- New Rockies closer Wade Davis brings a full mix of pitches, a history of success and, most importantly, high expectations.Davis started a postseason game for the Rays as a rookie in 2010, appeared in two World Series with the Royals -- including when they won the championship
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- New Rockies closer Wade Davis brings a full mix of pitches, a history of success and, most importantly, high expectations.
Davis started a postseason game for the Rays as a rookie in 2010, appeared in two World Series with the Royals -- including when they won the championship in '15 -- and helped the Cubs reach the National League Championship Series last year. The Rockies signed Davis to a three-year, $52 million deal believing he is just the right guy for a team that made the postseason last year for the first time since 2009, but cannot afford to be satisfied.
Davis has learned that when times are difficult, the expectation doesn't change.
"I've been real fortunate to be on winning teams, but each team goes through a 10-game losing streak, goes through those times where you think you're doomed," Davis said. "The media is asking questions, 'Are you worried?' So you can either buy into that and be worried, or you're buying into your own thoughts, individually or as a team. Are you really buying into what kind of stories you're telling yourself, or what kind of stories that are written about you?
"The good teams always chip away and get out of those slumps, and they stay in those slumps a less amount of time than other teams. When they do come out of them, they are a more consistent team. This team won 88 games last year, so we're capable of doing that again, and then some."
Of course, knowing there's a closer like Davis at game's end helps with the winning expectation.
Davis, 32, has converted 76 of his 81 save opportunities over the past three seasons, while making the All-Star Game each of those years -- twice with the Royals, last season with the Cubs. He has converted 93.7 percent of his save chances over the past two seasons, which ranks second in the Majors.
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With the Rays and early with the Royals, Davis started and pitched in relief. Interestingly, he kept his pitch mix -- a fastball, hard cutter, slider and curveball, with an occasional changeup. He concentrated on mental adjustments.
"I remember telling him when I was going to send him to the bullpen, we were going to send him down for a couple of days and I wanted him to pitch an inning, take a day off, pitch an inning, then come back," said Royals manager Ned Yost, who switched Davis permanently in 2013. "And he said, 'If you don't mind, I want to take a day off, pitch two innings and then take a day off, and then come back. I said, 'Why?' 'Because I've got to get back into a reliever's mindset. I've got to get back to raring back and attacking hitters, instead of pacing myself as a starter.'
"When he left, he was 91, 92, 93 [mph], and he came back throwing 97, 98."
Rockies manager Bud Black noted that whether a closer brings a diverse mix, like Davis, or relies on limited pitches -- like future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera with his cutter -- there are brains behind the arm, because they can hit different spots with their pitches.
"The good ones pitch," Black said. "Very rarely, if you're just a thrower, you don't pass the test of time."
According to Statcast™, Davis has reduced his fastball usage from 58 percent in 2014 to 44 percent last season. Over the past two years, he has thrown his cutter/slider 32 percent of the time and his curveball 19-21 percent. Actually, he occasionally manipulates the curve and the cutter into something of a slider.
"I'm always trying to get better, any kind of way I can," Davis said. "At the time, I felt good with all the pitches I had, and I was still working on other pitches. It's something that I'll always continue to do."
The pitches don't matter as much to Davis as leaving the mound with the Rockies winning does. He sees that attitude already among his new teammates.
"One thing that it feels like, those teams that you're on that are like that, they try to win every single game the whole year," Davis said. "That's what it feels like. That's what makes the difference between winning those extra games at the end. It's those games that we were down and we came back, or holding it down when you're ahead. That's the difference between being a really great team and a good team."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.