With refined focus, Davies delivers for D-backs in solid start

September 2nd, 2023

PHOENIX -- When he’s at his best, looks like he did Friday night against the Orioles.

His sinker dives down and in on righties, his cutter gets in on lefties. Then he expands the zone on the outside part of the plate.

Davies will throw his changeup in the upper 70s to low 80s, slowing down hitters' bats so that when he cranks up his four-seam fastball at all of 89 mph, hitters are late with their swings. The frustration is evident on their faces and in their body language.

That’s the Davies that pitched the D-backs to a 4-2 win over the Orioles, and one they could really use as they make their push for one of the NL Wild Card slots.

∙ Games remaining: vs. BAL (2), vs. COL (3), at CHC (4), at NYM (4), vs. CHC (3), vs. SF (2), at NYY (3), at CWS (3), vs. HOU (3)

∙ Standings update: The D-backs are tied with the Giants for the third and final NL Wild Card spot. San Francisco currently holds the tiebreaker with Arizona by virtue of its 6-5 record against the D-backs, but the two teams have a pair of games remaining this year.

Davies allowed just one run on four hits over six innings of work walking one and striking out six. The one run came in the first and he gave up just two hits in five shutout innings after that.

It was the second straight good outing for Davies since he was activated from the injured list where he spent more than a month nursing a lower back injury.

In his last start before going on the IL, Davies allowed nine runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Braves to raise his season ERA to 7.38. It was a low point for him, and he spent the time on the IL not only getting his back healthy, but adjusting his mental approach as well.

“I think I fall into what a lot of pitchers do is overthrowing,” Davies said. “Even though I don't throw that hard, I still think that at times we all do it. So I kind of took a step back just concentrated on keeping the back healthy, but also kept the command on my pitches and you know, so far so good.”

Rather than focus on how much movement he was getting on his pitches, Davies went back to simply focusing on making sure he was hitting his spots.

Because he doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, his outings are more of a chess match. He prepares meticulously and then knows that he has to get his pitches where they need to be.

Seeing frustration in opposing hitters, who can’t believe they just got beat by an 89 mph fastball is something that makes Davies smile.

“I take pride in that,” Davies said. “I enjoy when I see that, too, because I know that all the stuff that I've done leading up to that game is exactly what I saw on video and I've executed it. Being able to get guys frustrated, command my pitches, jam guys and have guys not taking good swings, those are the types of things where I know that I've gotten to a good place in terms of mechanics, pitch location and just the overall homework and studying beforehand.”

When Davies hits his spots, opposing hitters find themselves swinging at pitches just off the plate.

“I just thought we expanded the zone too much on him,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Our approach tonight going in was outstanding, and then we didn’t really follow through in the game. We just didn’t take very many good at-bats.”

Davies, of course, had something to do with that.