Wade Davis, anchor of Kansas City Royals’ championship bullpen, retires from baseball

·3 min read

Wade Davis, the relief pitcher who closed out the Kansas City Royals’ American League pennant- and World Series-clinching victories in 2015, announced his retirement Wednesday.

“Wade will forever be remembered by our fans, his teammates and our organization as an elite competitor and a very classy person,” Royals president of baseball operations Dayton Moore said in a statement.

“He helped anchor one of the very best bullpens in Royals history which was a major factor in our world championship in 2015. I’m forever thankful for the way he represented our great city and for the committed husband he is to Katelyn and the special father he is to Sully and Ty.”

Davis came to the Royals in the 2012 offseason as a 27-year-old starting pitcher, acquired with James Shields in a blockbuster trade that sent Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi and Patrick Leonard to the Tampa Bay Rays.

But while he arrived in Kansas City as a starter, he retires after developing into one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. He made 24 starts in 2013 and then moved to the bullpen full-time. For the ensuing three-year stretch, there was nobody better. In 2014-16, Davis posted a 1.18 ERA while allowing just three homers in 182 2/3 innings pitched, striking out 234.

In the postseason, Davis set up Greg Holland during the 2014 Royals’ run to the American League pennant and Game 7 loss to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series — part of the vaunted “HDH” bullpen that also included Kelvin Herrera, who retired earlier this year.

After taking over as the closer in 2015, Davis recorded the final five outs of the ALCS Game 6 clincher against the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched on both sides of a 41-minute rain delay and escaped jams of runners on first and third with no outs, then second and third with one out in the ninth.

Davis did not throw a single pitch during the rain delay.

“Wade is the man,” fellow pitcher Danny Duffy said after that game. “He can do whatever he wants.”

Eight days later, Davis also closed out the World Series against the New York Mets in Game 5, freezing Wilmer Flores with his patented cut fastball over the inner half of the plate in the 12th inning.

Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Wade Davis yells after getting the final out in the ninth inning during Friday’s ALCS baseball game on October 23, 2015 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Wade Davis yells after getting the final out in the ninth inning during Friday’s ALCS baseball game on October 23, 2015 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

In those two postseasons, Davis secured three victories and four saves while only allowing one earned run in 25 innings, a 0.36 ERA.

Davis was an AL All-Star in 2015 and 2016 before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Jorge Soler. Davis made the 2017 All-Star team with the Cubs, then signed a three-year, $52 million free agent deal with the Colorado Rockies, where he pitched from 2018-20 before returning to the Royals this season.

In his final season, Davis, 36, appeared in 40 games and recorded two saves, giving him 49 for his Royals career, tied for ninth with Steve Farr.

Overall, Davis pitched in six different postseasons, going 4-0 with eight saves, a 1.80 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched.

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