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Wade Davis brings historically great numbers, fastball to Cubs

Wade Davis brings a track record of success -- in the regular season and postseason -- to the Chicago Cubs' bullpen. Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs on Wednesday traded Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball: Wade Davis.

Davis is the only pitcher in MLB history to have multiple seasons with at least 50 innings pitched and an ERA of 1.00 or lower. He accomplished that in 2014 and 2015.

Chicago’s new closer owns the lowest ERA in MLB history as a reliever among all pitchers with at least 250 career innings in relief (1.51). He has faced 706 batters the past three seasons and allowed three home runs.

Since becoming a full-time reliever three years ago, Davis leads all pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched in ERA and opponent OPS.

What makes Davis so good

The Cubs are going to have one of the best fastballs in baseball at the back end of their bullpen in 2016.

Davis has allowed an opponent batting average of .160 in at-bats ending with fastballs over the last three seasons. That’s the lowest mark out of the 289 pitchers who have finished off at least 400 batters with some variation of a fastball.

Hitters have missed on 29 percent of swings against Davis’ fastball since 2014, the seventh-highest rate in the league.

Postseason résumé

The Cubs, the current favorite to win the World Series, obtained a reliever with a great postseason résumé. Davis is 4-0 with four saves and a 0.84 ERA in 32 1/3 postseason innings pitched. He was on the mound for the final out of the 2015 World Series against the New York Mets.

Among 36 pitchers with at least 30 postseason innings pitched since 2010, Davis ranks first in ERA and strikeouts per nine innings pitched (12.8). He has only allowed one home run in his postseason career, and that was to Nelson Cruz back in 2010 when Davis pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays.

2016 injury

Davis was limited to 43 1/3 innings last season, a low for him since moving to the bullpen full time. His ERA nearly doubled from 2015 to 2016 (0.94 to 1.87), but he had a 2.29 FIP (fielding independent pitching) in each of those seasons.

Any decline in Davis’ numbers can be attributed to his outings immediately before and after his DL stint. Davis gave up two earned runs in each of those one-inning appearances around his month-long absence. Davis had a 1.09 ERA in all other games.

Davis’ fastball averaged 95.0 mph before his DL stint and 94.8 mph after it.