Saturday night baseball: Will Davis still hit leadoff as Cashner debuts?

Even though manager Buck Showalter would not commit to using first baseman Chris Davis as a leadoff hitter beyond opening day, there seems to be no reason to make a change now. Will Davis hit first again tonight against Minnesota?

Why pull the plug after just one game? Why not let this play out for at least a handful of games to start the year?

Davis went 0-for-4 with an intentional walk on Thursday and everyone knows that he is a player on the spot this season. Many Orioles fans race to talk shows and message boards to criticize his every move, and only he can change that with greater production this year - production we’ve seen from his bat in the past. After all, this is a player with seasons of 47 and 53 homers.

chris-davis-white-artsy.pngDavis batting leadoff is unconventional, manager Buck Showalter acknowledges. But so was putting Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Nick Markakis there previously.

Davis does have one of the best walk rates on the team. His walk rate of 11.6 percent last season easily led O’s players with 200 or more plate appearances. Seth Smith ranked second at 9.7 with Manny Machado third at 7.2. Davis also saw 4.1 pitches per plate appearance last year - again among the best on the team.

But being patient in the leadoff spot goes against Davis’ stated desire to be more aggressive at bat this year. He wants to take fewer third strikes and be more active early in counts, not letting too many hittable pitches go by.

Davis wanted to bat leadoff and Showalter agreed to give it a go. No reason to abandon that after one game. The bottom line for Davis is he needs better numbers pretty much across the board in 2018 - no matter where he hits in the batting order.

Cashner’s first start: Right-hander Andrew Cashner makes his first start for his new team tonight when the Orioles host Minnesota. Cashner was slotted in between Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the season-opening rotation.

Last year, Cashner went 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA for the Texas Rangers. After July 1, he was 8-4 with a 3.02 ERA that ranked seventh-best in the American League. Cashner tied for second in the league in homers/nine innings (0.89), sixth in groundball percentage (48.6) seventh in pitches per inning (15.8) and ninth in ERA.

Cashner made 18 quality starts last season to tie for 11th in the league and Texas went 14-14 in his starts. He had an ERA of 3.54 before the All-Star break and 3.27 after.

On Wednesday, the eve of opening day, catcher Caleb Joseph talked about the additions to the rotation of Cashner and Alex Cobb.

“Really excited. Quite a drastic change from six weeks ago,” Joseph said before he drove in two runs in the opening day win. “We added two proven starters, one that has had a lot of success in the East. They both bring a little different vibe to the club, I think. Cashner brings a really vocal will to win and (Alex) Cobb it seems to me has an inquisitive mind. And that is interesting for me, too. Really excited about the five guys we have. The darkhorse is back. We love laying in the weeds. But we’re feeling good about ourselves.”

On the farm: We published the minor league break-camp rosters yesterday. Click here to take a look.

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