The Los Angeles Angels skipped over Tucker Davidson’s most recent scheduled start, and didn’t give a reason as to why at the time. But three days later, Davidson was on the mound debuting a new delivery that was hopeful to lead to a higher strike rate.
Prior to Wednesday, Davidson had been walking 6.3 batters per nine innings and his strike rate was three percent below league average. So the Angels had Davidson begin his delivery with his lead shoulder pointing towards home base, similar to pitching out of the stretch.
The result was an outing in which Davidson allowed three runs on five hits in 5.0 innings. But most importantly, Davidson did not walk any batters. It was the first time in his career that he had not given up a walk for an entire start.
Davidson spoke about the new delivery and why he feels it helped him increase his strike rate, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“My shoulders would get so turned toward first base, then I’m throwing behind a left-handed hitter, and I’m having to cross myself over,” Davidson said. “It’s just not easy to repeat the mechanics of that. I feel like this is a little bit easier, keeps my direction in line a little better.”
“I think the walks and the strike percentage showed (the new delivery worked),” Davidson said. “It’s one we’re going to continue to build off, but we’re making a lot of progress. The new delivery is going to be beneficial for me. It kind of simplifies things.”
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin also gave his thoughts on Davidson and the improvement he showed on Wednesday with the new delivery.
“He was around the strike zone,” Manager Phil Nevin said. “You see him around the zone like that and then not hard contact is good. (His pitches) were scattered earlier, and he would hang some pitches and get hurt on one or two balls, but today he really didn’t.”
Although it did not result in an Angels victory — with the Texas Rangers winning 7-2 — it showed the type of pitcher Davidson can be when he’s zeroed in on avoiding walks.
With such high walk rates, it was nearly impossible for Davidson to use some of the better pitches in his repertoire. Constantly fighting against the count makes life difficult for any pitcher, let alone a young starter.
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As another pitcher that struggled with high walk totals in 2022, Patrick Sandoval looks better than ever over the past two months. After a stretch in which his WHIP was over 1.600, he has hovered below 1.100 since late July, a testament to the type of pitcher he can be at his best.