There's no question that the Royals won the James Shields trade. Wil Myers is no longer a member of the Rays, but the
center fielder first baseman young power bat that the Padres will look to pair with Hunter Renfroe in their lineup when he arrives. Shields is also a Padre. The Rays may have Jake Odorizzi in their rotation, but the Royals have Wade Davis. Let's spend a short while talking about Wade Davis, shall we?
Wade Davis, who over the course of the last two seasons has been worth 5.0 fWAR out of the bullpen. Wade Davis, who sat for an hour before returning to the mound to pitch the Royals into the World Series. Wade Davis, who allowed just 71 hits to the 530 batters he's faced over the past two seasons. Wade Davis, who is secretly a cyborg from the future sent back in time by Skynet to reduce baseball players to quivering messes and enable Ned Yost to own a World Series ring.
The best way for opposing teams to remove Davis from the equation is to carry a lead into the late innings. Davis is now the Royals' closer, and barring a tight game, Yost will be less likely to unleash him on the Mets if the Royals are losing. However, the Mets will see Davis at some point in the coming week. The road to the big trophy and the ticker tape parade may lie through Davis. Can the Mets touch him?
Davis has actually been touched up this year. By "touched up" I mean he went from allowing zero home runs in 2014 to three in 2015. All of his other baserunner limitation statistics dropped. So the Mets have that going for them, which is nice.
Let's look at how Davis attacks hitters. He has a four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a cutter. The cutter flies across the plate in on right-handed hitters, and the curve drops like an elevator. The four-seam averages around 96 MPH, the cutter 93. The curve is a weapon to be sure, but Brooks Baseball says that the cutter is the pitch that Davis gets the most whiffs on.
Yoenis Cespedes' perfomance against cutters was 2.5 runs above average, according to FanGraphs. Juan Lagares was an even better 3.1 runs above average, and Curtis Granderson was 1.3 runs above average. After that the rest of the Mets were nearly average or worse against cutters. When the fact that Davis' cutter was 7.4 runs above average is taken into consideration, the whole affair gets even dicier. Here's Todd Frazier falling victim to the pitch.
The ball traverses nearly the entire width of the plate at 92 miles per hour. It's unfair. It's like Davis is playing with a GameShark and the rest of the league is still playing the tutorial level. If Davis gets into a game, the Mets had better hope that Cespedes is involved. Scratching out any sort of positive outcome off of Davis is a moral victory in and of itself. Yet in the World Series working a walk or hitting a single alone won't cut it. The Mets will need to actually score.
That's something that Davis doesn't allow to happen all that often. Only seven earned runs scored on his watch this year. Throw in the Royals' superb defense and the cards are stacked to the peak of Mount Everest against you when Davis sets foot on the rubber.
Can the Mets go to work on Wade Davis? Probably not. Almost nobody can. Their two sources of hope are Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares, and maybe Curtis Granderson can chip in. More likely than not, though, Davis will stomp all over the Mets. The only defense against the home run is to not allow home runs. The only defense against Wade Davis is to score enough runs that he doesn't enter the game.
The Mets had better hope they can do that.
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Nicolas Stellini is a featured writer at Beyond the Box Score. He also covers the Yankees at Pinstripe Alley and BP Bronx. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets.