The San Diego Padres were dealing on Wednesday morning, and the acquisition of Zach Davies from the Brewers is undoubtedly an improvement for the rotation.
Davies had a solid 2019 season for the Milwaukee Brewers, posting a 3.55 ERA, 125 ERA+, and 2.5 WAR. For reference, Chris Paddack had a 3.33 ERA, a 127 ERA+, and 2.6 WAR this past season for the Padres.
Looking at the 2020 rotation as it stands today, Davies is the second-best option for the Padres after Paddack. San Diego dealt away Eric Lauer in this deal, who had a 4.45 ERA and 0.8 WAR last year. Swapping Lauer for Davies in the rotation is an instant upgrade.
Dinelson Lamet might have a thing or two to say about being near the top of the rotation, but until he turns in a full body of work in the big leagues, the skeptics will be present.
Looking at Davies’ repertoire as a starting pitcher, he will not blow anyone away.
He primarily uses a two-seam fastball and changeup, occasionally mixing in a cutter. He rarely exceeds 90 MPH on his velocity.
Zach Davies, Filthy 82mph Changeup. ?
Báez bends the knee. pic.twitter.com/nDUgtponcF
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 11, 2019
He makes two-time All-Star Javier Baez look silly with a nasty changeup.
Davies certainly is not without his flaws. He does not produce many strikeouts, as his career strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate is 6.4, and his walks rate is 2.6. His 2019 strikeout rate of 5.8 is near dead last in the big leagues while his walk rate is in the middle of the pack.
He is actually good at keeping the ball in the ballpark, as he surrendered 20 home runs last year, 14th-best among pitchers with at least 150 innings pitched.
Davies is still young, not yet 27, with three seasons left of control before free agency. If he continues this trend, he can be a solid two or three starter in the rotation. In 2017 was his most complete season, with a career-high 191 1/3 innings pitched with a 3.90 ERA and 112 ERA+. In two of the last three seasons, he has started at least 31 games with no less than 159 innings. In parts of five seasons, Davies has only turned in an ERA+ less than 100 once.
Zach Davies is a boost this starting rotation desperately needs. Sure, the Padres still need a true ace, but World Series teams also have rotation depth, and that is what Davies brings to the Friars.