Zach Davies is a player who the Milwaukee Brewers could rely on to win games in 2017. He needs to continue that trend in 2018.
His 17 wins were crucial to the success of the Milwaukee Brewers last season, especially with the underachieving Matt Garza and the injury to Chase Anderson. In order to continue success, the Crew needs Davies to repeat the performance in the coming season.
He is a true testament to pitching to contact. Davies struck out just under six batters per nine innings. However, his walks per nine were higher than usual. But, for a guy averaging 89 MPH on his fastball, he cannot live in the zone and find success.
He survives with his offspeed pitches. He features a cutter, curveball, and changeup that keep hitters off balance. Davies creates groundballs just over half the time contact is made. That feeds into where he finds his success. He will consistently live around 20 percent soft contact.
Often times, Davies is gifted with run support. On more than one occasion he got the win, but gave up four or more runs in a game. However, he did have plenty of games where he gave up two runs or less.
What Can Improve in 2018?
His ERA is nearly four. It would be nice for that to drop, but being under four is never a bad thing. The main area of work is his WHIP. His walk rate is a little high. However, the main killer in his 1.35 WHIP mark are all the hits.
The nature of pitching to contact is giving up hits. Increasing his cutter usage may cause more grounders, and it would drop the use of his curveball. Davies does not give up a lot of homeruns, and he leaves a lot of runners on base. The fact that this is all to point out is amazing.
Expectations for 2018
Pitchers do not drastically change who they are in an offseason. It is not realistic to say that Davies will come out and strikeout more batters. He will continue to pitch to contact and trust his defense.
Causing more grounders will help a lot. His numbers suggest that the groundballs will continue to come in 2018. Hopefully his walk numbers will come back down too. But if he can continue to be a workhorse, he will be helpful.
The one number that will be tough to repeat is 17 wins. Davies is a talented pitcher, and he can absolutely win a ton of games. But, he will need run support. Winning almost 20 games is the sign of a great year. I would bet he will win between 10 and 13 games.
Either way, Davies is set to be a key part of the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers. Just as he was in 2017, he will be an anchor in that rotation. So, to say that he will have a poor season is wrong. He will be great once again in the coming year.