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Padres' Davies compensates for lack of velocity with control

By JACK MAGRUDER

Associated Press

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Zach Davies has to compensate for his lack of velocity.

"There are some guys who just go out there and throw, and that's great and it works," San Diego's newly acquired pitcher said. "Unfortunately, I don't have that. But there are ways to be successful other than throw hard and try to blow it by people, and that's something I've had to focus on."

Davies, whose fastball averaged just under 89 mph last season, was acquired from Milwaukee in late November along with center fielder Trent Grisham for left-hander Eric Lauer, infielder Luis Urias and a player to be named.

Davies examines video of other pitchers who rely on command and control, such as former Padre Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson and Kyle Hendricks.

"Just kind of see how hitters react to it," Davies said. "There are differences in the way you sequence and the way you throw to guys, but you can kind of see the way hitters react in certain situations. And if you want to change your game plan, you know what works with other guys. So you use that, too."

Davies is expected to occupy a spot in the starting rotation along with Chris Paddack, Garrett Richards and Dinelson Lamet.

A 27-year-old right-hander, Davies was 43-32 in five seasons with the Brewers, winning at least 10 games in all three seasons in the rotation in which he remained healthy. He was 17-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 2017, and shoulder and back issues limited him to 13 starts in 2018. Davis was 10-7 with a career-low 3.55 ERA in 31 starts last season.

"Zach is going to do great," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. "He's got this stubbornness: `This is what I am good at. It works. I'm going to keep doing it.' And I think he is right. He has a pretty consistent track record."

Davies' ratio of 5.75 strikeouts per nine innings was the lowest among NL starters who pitched at least 125 innings last year, but he also walked only 2.9 per nine inning. He has given up 20 homers in each of his three full seasons, but pitcher-friendly Petco could mitigate that.

"It comes as advertised. Double-plus command," Rangers manager Jayce Tingler said. "He has an ability to locate. He has the ability to pitch to maybe a hitter's weakness. He's been very good at creating soft contact.

"At the end of the day, their job is to get outs. You can do it by creating a ton of swing and miss. You can also do it by creating a ton of soft contact with good solid defense behind you. Being able to have a very good changeup and maybe to rock a hitter back and forth and keep him off-balance, that's definitely one of his strengths."

Davies, 6-foot and 155 pounds, was an infielder in high school and converted to the mound as a senior. He was selected by Baltimore in the 26th round of the 2011 amateur draft and was traded to the Brewers in 2015.

"I was always the smallest and youngest guy out there. I've always thought my biggest improvements can be on the thinking part of the game," he said. "That's something that I talk a lot about with guys that are looking for something. That for me is the first step. I've always watched baseball games and kind of analyzed from every standpoint, from a position player when I was a kid to now as a pitcher.

"You get in the video room. You watch a lot of guys and compare yourself to other guys and you make a game plan off of that."

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Updated February 20, 2020

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