Changeup stands out for Davies during debut
Brewers catcher Lucroy thinks righty should mold himself after Marcum
MILWAUKEE -- As 22-year-old Zach Davies threw changeup after changeup at the Pirates on Wednesday, Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy saw shades of a similar pitcher from the team's recent past.
"I told him, 'I want you to watch video of Shaun Marcum in 2011 because [you] could be a guy like that,'" Lucroy said after the Brewers' 9-4 win at Miller Park. "Because his changeup is so good, he's a righty and he works fast. That could definitely be a guy that he can mold himself after, for sure, pitching-wise."
Lucroy was referring not to the Marcum who struggled down the stretch and in the postseason that year, but the one who pitched better than rotation mates Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo for a large part of the regular season, despite a fastball that struggled to register 90 mph.
That's where Davies, acquired in a trade with the Orioles in July and promoted to the Majors this week, topped out on the radar gun Wednesday. But it worked for three hitless innings of his Major League debut before Davies found trouble in the fourth, when a fastball that was supposed to be inside against Aramis Ramirez caught the edge of the plate, and Ramirez smacked a three-run home run. An inning later, amid another Pittsburgh rally, Davies' debut was cut short.
He was changed with four earned runs on four hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings. He also picked up a hit during the fourth inning and scored on Lucroy's go-ahead two-run single. Davies is the Brewers' 11th-ranked prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.
"I felt comfortable out there," Davies said. "I had a little nerves in the beginning, but at the same time I thought, 'That's not going to help you if you go out there and you're all over the place.' I tried to relax and settle in."
Pirates batters did their best to prevent that from happening by calling a series of late timeouts, intended to slow Davies' quick pace. One of them was Starling Marte, who called time just as Davies began his delivery in the fourth inning, then hit the next pitch for a double -- the Pirates' first hit.
Andrew McCutchen followed with a walk, and Ramirez then hit a home run that tied the game briefly at 3.
"The umpire was getting tired of it," Lucroy said of those timeouts. "He's just ready to pitch. That's all part of disrupting timing from a hitter's standpoint and a pitcher's standpoint, you want to disrupt their timing and it makes him successful. I'm sure we'll probably see it a little bit, but hopefully umpires will stop that."
Davies' next scheduled start is on Labor Day in Miami, and Lucroy wants to work the curveball and cutter into the mix earlier against the Marlins. In his first turn through the Pirates' batting order on Wednesday, Davies threw all fastballs and changeups.
He's one of four young pitchers in Milwaukee's starting rotation, with Wily Peralta, Jimmy Nelson and Taylor Jungmann. Davies is bidding to join those others in next year's starting rotation.
"It's fun," Lucroy said. "I remember when I was a young guy coming up and now there's a bunch of young guys and it's me catching. It's a lot of fun. They've got a lot of energy and a lot of positives."