The Royals placed Wade Davis on the 10-day injured list yesterday with a right forearm strain. Southpaw Richard Lovelady was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to take his spot in the Royals’ bullpen, per the team transactions log on MLB.com.
The Royals are scuffling. They earned pats on the back from many around the game for their aggressive offseason, and when they jumped out to a 15-9 start in April, the idea of Mike Matheny’s club making a run seemed like it might have legs. But they tumbled to an 11-17 record in May, and fell even further in June, entering play on Wednesday with a 7-19 record for the month. Now losers of seven straight, the Royals have fallen behind the Twins for last place in the AL Central.
Pitching has been a particular challenge for the Royals this month. With a team ERA of 5.97, they have produced -0.7 fWAR this month, tied with the Diamondbacks for the worst mark in the Majors. Davis has, unfortunately, been no small part of their struggles, as the Royals’ legend has given up 11 earned runs on 14 hits and and five walks while serving up five home runs in 9 1/3 innings this month. For the year now, Davis has a 8.06 ERA/6.50 FIP.
His control issues of the past couple seasons have settled down to a not-horrible 9.2 percent walk rate, but the trouble stems largely from the fact that, at 35 years old, Davis simply isn’t missing bats anymore. His four-seamer velocity is down to an average of 92.6 mph, which lands in just the 16th percentile league-wide. His O-Swing%, the percent of pitches batters swing at outside the zone, is down to 23.9 percent, quite a bit below the 30.6 percent average for relievers. Overall, his 18.5 percent strikeout rate is a good tick below average as well.
Lovelady, 25, will make his first appearance of the season and try to provide some support to the Royals’ pen. Lovelady relies mostly on a fastball/slider combo, though he’s worked to add a change-up to his arsenal as well. He has 26 career appearances, all but one coming back in 2019 when he logged 20 innings with a 7.65 ERA/4.16 FIP while posting walk and strikeout rates of 8.3 percent and 17.7 percent, respectively.