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2016 MVBrewers #5: Zach Davies

Zach Davies helped stabilize a shaky rotation

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs
Davies’ strong pitching acumen helped keep opponents at bay
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

Zach Davies comes in fifth in our list of MVBrewers, garnering more votes than all others combined to grab that slot. He is the second starting pitcher to appear on the list, along with fellow rookie Junior Guerra. Zach and Juni G didn’t start the season with the major league squad, having been assigned to Colorado Springs out of spring training, but the Brewers’ rotation quickly became fell into shambles in April and help was needed. Davies provided that help all year.

Zach joined the Brewers in the 2015 trade that sent Gerardo Parra to Baltimore. It must be noted that the Brewers’ rebuild has benefited from several of the deals that Doug Melvin made towards the end of his tenure.

Davies is not an overpowering pitcher, but he is a fine member of any rotation. His mix of “stuff” and control are such that they throw off the timing of hitters used to gearing up for 95 MPH fastballs. He understands pitching much as Kyle Lohse did, and has come upon that knowledge earlier in his career than Kyle. (Of course, Lohse did throw harder while younger, so his later conversion is understandable.)

Zach ended up starting 28 games for the Brewers, and working 163.1 innings. That’s just enough to qualify for the ERA title, and Davies ended up in the NL’s 20th slot for that statistic. Among rookies that qualified, Davies was second in all of baseball to Kenta Maeda of the Dodgers (3.48). He also tied for second in most wins, with 11, with the Tigers’ Michael Fulmer, 5 behind Maeda. He was 4th in total strikeouts for all rookie pitchers. A 2.8 WAR also showed great promise for the righty going into the 2017 season. The 2.8 WAR was 4th best among all rookie pitchers.

Davies averaged 7.7 strikeouts per 9 innings and 2.1 walks. That walk rate is good, but I actually expect to see it improve as he matures as a pitcher. The strikeouts are not as important for a “stuff” pitcher, but the number is actually quite good.

An 11-7 record for a team that won 73 games is good. As the Brewers’ offense improves, and the young players settle in defensively, having a starting pitcher like Davies will keep the Brewers in more games than many starters. As a pre-arbitration player he looks to be a solid part of the Brewers rotation for many years to come.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs