Davies 2009 (through May 27 start):
6.33 K/9, 3.86 BB/9, 1.64 K/BB, 8.9% swinging strike rate
1.23 HR/9, 11.8% HR/FB
17.4% LD%, 44.4% GB%, 288 BABIP
The K/BB is almost exactly his 2008 1.65 K/BB, so he has added a few strikeouts at the expense of a proportional number of walks. A good sign is that his swinging strike rate is up almost a 1% from 8.0% in 2008. As expected, his HR/FB rose from an unsustainable 6.7% in 2008 to a tick above average in 2009. He has also turned about 5% of batted balls from line drives (21.6% LD% 2008) into groundballs (38.8% GB% 2008).
Going from a flyball pitcher to a neutral pitcher helps, but Davies needs to push his K/BB closer to 2.0 to become an effective middle of the rotation starter.
There also seems to be a commonality between the teams from last September and his first start this year when Davies was dominant -- he faced the Mariners, White Sox, Twins, and White Sox again -- all teams that generally employ an aggressive approach at the plate and like to swing at pitches out of the zone. On the other hand, he tends to have mixed results against teams with better patience and discipline.
Davies for now is an adequate back of the rotation starter who still has some work to do to become a middle of the rotation starter. He has the raw tools to work with, but it will not come automatically. If it does not happen, he probably could become a pretty decent reliever who could go multiple innings -- relievers usually add velocity and control is not as important. With Cortes battling his own control problems on a second tour of duty in AA, the Royals do not have any major league ready pitching prospects to push anyone out of the rotation. But the clock is still ticking on Davies, as he will already be in his second year of salary arbitration this offseason, when teams start having to pay starters real money. He has come a long ways from 2006 and 2007 when he was one of the worst starters in baseball, but the Royals will have a tough call in the not-so-distant future if Davies does not show more improvement.