Remember Ike Davis? You know, the left-handed first baseman for the New York Mets in the 2010s who once hit 32 home runs at 25? Well, he’s 30 now and looking to make a comeback. But this time around, he’ll be trying to limit the long ball.
That’s right, Ike Davis is back as a pitcher in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ system. Davis made his debut with the Arizona Fall League Dodgers on Sunday, and he actually looked pretty darn good. Davis struck out the side in his only inning of work. He did not allow a hit or walk any batters.
Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs was on hand to witness Davis’ performance, and said Davis sat between 88-92 mph with his fastball.
Despite the success, Davis is obviously not a true prospect. Longenhagen points that out, putting “it’s Ike Davis, guys” in the section where he ranks the prospect on his top-100 list. We got a chuckle out of that.
It is worth noting that Davis has some talent as a pitcher, though. He was a reliever in college, and even appeared in two games on the mound with the Oakland Athletics in 2015. In those two innings, Davis gave up one hit, one walk and notched one strikeout. He’s got a perfect 0.00 ERA in the majors.
As you might suspect, Davis should be considered a long shot. He’s already 30, and he’s currently at one of the lowest levels of the minors. His first appearance was excellent, but he has a long way to go if he hopes to make it back to the majors.
It’s not impossible. Rich Hill was pithing in an independent league before making his comeback at age-35. Rick Ankiel famously made the transition from promising pitcher to useful outfielder.
Davis isn’t doing the exact same thing as those guys, but some players have started their careers as hitters only to find more success on the mound. Carlos Marmol, Kenley Jansen and Trevor Hoffman, to name a few, were drafted or signed as position players.
The only difference is that those guys made the switch as they were coming up. That’s not the case with Davis, so he doesn’t have as much time to figure things out. At 30, he’ll have to prove he’s worth the investment soon, or the team could opt to give his roster spot to a younger player.
For now, though, everything looks good. Davis may be a long way from the majors, but his first outing was a success. If he keeps this up, maybe the Dodgers will get a surprise boost in the bullpen as they charge toward the World Series.
That seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
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