That Wade Davis is likely to be named the Rockies’ closer in and of itself isn’t shocking. Davis is one of the most accomplished closers of this era, changing the game with an incomparable three-year run of dominance with the Royals from 2014 to 2016. Over that span, Davis appeared in 185 contests, posting a 1.18 ERA/1.86 FIP. He gave up just three home runs in that time, and along with running mates Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera, showcased the potential for an uber-dominant bullpen to undergird a champion. Whether that unit was truly transcendent is a debate for another day, but they did, at the very least, help drive the transformation of bullpen usage that, in part, defines our current era of baseball.
And yet, Davis wasn’t the nominal closer on those Royals teams. Not until an injury to Holland forced him into the role. But he is, once again, the nominal closer for the Colorado Rockies despite the 8.65 ERA he posted in 50 games last season, per MLB.com’s Thomas Harding.
In the Rockies’ defense, putting Davis back into the closer role allows manager Bud Black to deploy Scott Oberg or Jairo Diaz in higher-leverage situations, though there are other ways to protect Davis, should that be the goal. Davis’ trajectory should be a fun one to track throughout the season, as it’s hard to imagine many more opportunities to watch a team roll it back after their closer posted an ERA over 8.00.
Also to consider, Davis is making a chunky $17MM this season. The Rockies could be free of their obligation to Davis with a $1MM buyout prior to 2021. Regardless, they’re gonna make every effort to put their investment to good use this season.