Brad Davis, with his bulldog approach to pitching, seems to have been born to be a reliever. However, Davis once had dreams of being a major league starting pitcher. The Kentucky native spent his college career mostly as a starter and didn't become a full-time reliever until last season with Vancouver. Although Davis didn't have a lot of experience out of the bullpen, he quickly grew to love the role.
"I was a starter my whole life and actually kind of hated relieving, but they moved me into the bullpen last year and I really started to get into it. In the bullpen, you aren't thinking about too much during the game. Then you get the call and it takes you about five minutes to really get into the flow of the game," Davis said.
"I'm not really too picky about where they want to use me [in the bullpen]. I just like throwing every day."
Davis' alma-mater, Lewis-Clark State, has developed a reputation for producing high quality major league pitchers over the past ten years. Lewis-Clark State counts former A's closer Keith Foulke as one of their most famous alumni.
"At Lewis-Clark, they always stressed having a tough mentality on the mound and to be aggressive and make sure that you don't let the other guy beat you," Davis said.
Davis has rarely let the other guy beat him during his time in the A's organization. In his debut season with Vancouver, Davis threw 34.2 innings and allowed only two earned runs. He struck out 44 and walked nine while giving up only 26 hits. Davis was assigned to low-A Kane County to start the 2006 season and he immediately found the same type of success against Midwest League hitters that he had in the Northwest League.
In nine games for the Cougars in 2006, Davis threw 18 sparkling innings, allowing only six hits and one walk while striking out 16 batters. That performance earned him an early promotion to high-A Stockton. In his first outing with the Ports, Davis went 3.2 shut-out innings to earn the victory in the Ports April 29th win over Modesto. His scoreless streak would end three days later where so many do – in the launching pad of Lancaster. Davis allowed four runs in three innings, including two homeruns on May 2. Still, even with that set-back, Davis has a 1.49 ERA for the season.
"It's been great [being in the California League]. It was definitely something that I was looking forward to. I have definitely noticed a difference in the level of competition. The hitters are a little more patient and the talent level is a little higher," Davis said.
"The stadiums are definitely different. Down here in Lancaster, where the winds are blowing out 30 MPH, is definitely different," Davis added with a laugh.
The left-hander has a full arsenal of pitches at his disposal, a fastball, change-up, curveball and slider. He was a good control pitcher in college and that has carried over into his professional career. Although some relievers stick to only two pitches when they come out of the bullpen, Davis likes to use all of his weapons whenever possible.
"When I first come in, I usually stick to the fastball and change-up until the hitters prove they can hit those pitches and then I mix in the slider and the curveball a little bit," Davis said.
"The A's have worked with me on my change-up and that is a definite out-pitch for me now."