Cubs’ Zach Davies returns to San Diego to face former team

MLB

Cubs’ Zach Davies returns to San Diego to face former team

Midway through the 2020 season, San Diego right-hander Zach Davies discussed the unusual circumstances of his first — and as it turned out, only — season as a Padre.

“I’ve met no one here,” said Davies of being a newcomer during a pandemic. “There are no fans. There’s been no visitors or media in the clubhouse. It’s been weird.”

Davies, 28, finally will get to pitch before fans in Petco Park on Tuesday night. But it will be as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

On Dec. 29, the Padres sent him and four minor league prospects to the Cubs for right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish and catcher Victor Caratini.

“Clearly, Davies was one of the reasons we made the playoffs in 2020,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller said after making the deal for Darvish, the National League Cy Young Award runner-up last season, and Caratini, now San Diego’s starting catcher.

Davies made 12 starts for the 2020 Padres. He went 7-4 with a 2.73 ERA, a 1.067 WHIP and a .216 opponents’ batting average. He became very popular with the fans he never saw.

Coincidentally, he returns to San Diego having made 12 starts for the Cubs. He is 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA, a 1.683 WHIP and a .290 opponents’ batting average. Clearly, he is not as popular with Cubs fans, with his stats not approaching those he produced last year.

He has worked 15 fewer innings while issuing 10 more walks with about half as many strikeouts.

Meanwhile, Darvish is 6-1 with a 2.25 ERA, and the Padres are 11-1 in his starts.

Davies will face right-hander Dinelson Lamet (1-0, 2.50 ERA) on Tuesday. Lamet is just rounding into form after rehabbing an elbow injury that dated back to the end of last season.

“We’re really encouraged by what we’re seeing from Lamet,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said after Lamet faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Wednesday and gave up one run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts in four innings.

“The slider is sharper, the velocity is up. And he’s just as strong at the end of his outing,” Tingler said.

That outing was Lamet’s longest in seven appearances (five starts) this year. Lamet is now part of a six-man rotation, but he has yet to show the form that saw him post a 2.09 ERA in 2020 and finish fourth in NL Cy Young voting.

Lamet has needed an average of more than six innings a game from the bullpen in his starts. He has pitched only 18 innings, giving up six runs (five earned) on 19 hits and seven walks with 21 strikeouts for a 1.444 WHIP.

Last year, Lamet was dominating with a 0.86 WHIP and a .161 opponents’ batting average.

“We’re seeing Lamet take his stuff deeper into games,” Tingler said. “Now it’s just going deeper and being more efficient.”

In three starts in his career against the Cubs, Lamet is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA. Over 14 innings, he has given up six runs on 13 hits with four walks and 21 strikeouts.

Davies is 4-0 with a 3.31 ERA in six career starts vs. San Diego, all during his time with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2015-19.

–Field Level Media

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