New Chicago Cubs starter Zach Davies probably is going to have to get used to his image as “Kyle Lite.”

No two pitchers are exactly alike, but Davies is almost a mirror image of Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks with the same mannerisms, soft-spoken demeanor and ability to challenge hitters by hitting their spots instead of throwing it past them all the time.

“It’s funny, because they put our lockers next to each other, so I think they know the comparisons too,” Davies said Sunday morning on a teleconference from the Cubs complex in Mesa, Ariz. “We’ve talked a lot, simple stuff so far.

“There are similarities. There are difference in my eyes and his eyes, too. There are a little bit finer differences that not everybody catches, but at the same time, as pitchers who’ve been in the game a little while, you know those difference and you know how that changes your game plan compared to his.

“I think both of our games are similar in the fact that it’s reading swings, it’s reading hitters, and how our skills set and our stuff plays within the game against those guys. I love information. I love baseball. So I enjoy those conversations.”

Davies said he spent a lot of time watching Hendricks compete while playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, mostly because of their similar styles. And though it’s early in camp, Hendricks said they’ve already begun to discuss things like pitch sequencing and their thought processes when facing hitters.

Not every control-command pitcher is the same, despite all of them being lumped into the same category in the age of power pitchers.

“We all go about it in your own unique way,” Hendricks said.

Davies, 28, was acquired from the San Diego Padres in late December in the controversial Yu Darvish trade that made Cubs fans cry in unison. Four low-level prospects were the key to the deal for the Cubs, whose farm system has been lacking for years, and Davies was seen by some as an afterthought to help fill out a depleted rotation.

Replacing a Cy Young finalist in Darvish, who got off to a rocky start in Chicago but became a fan favorite once he got in a groove midway through the 2019 season, is a daunting task. But Davies is coming off a strong season with the Padres — a career-low 2.73 ERA, fifth among National League pitchers — and also figures to be motivated by the fact he’s entering his walk season, like so many other Cubs players.

“I’ve changed a few things with pitch usage and how I attack hitters and how I pitch to them,” he said. “So I’d say number-wise, yeah, (2020) was the best season for me. I’m one of those guys that wants to pitch every five days and pitch as many innings as I can. Last year didn’t allow me to do that — didn’t allow anybody to do that really with only 60 games — but I’m excited for 162 this year and to be out there as many innings as possible.”

After a 17-win season with the Brewers in 2017, Davies made only 13 starts in 2018 due to back and shoulder injuries. He increased his workload from 66 innings to 159 2/3 innings in 2019, but was back down to 69 1/3 last year due to the shortened season.

Cubs manager David Ross has said he’s not going to go with a six-man rotation, so Davies figures to get his wish if he stays healthy and productive. But president Jed Hoyer also maintained he expects to use 7-8 starters over the course of the season due to innings limitations following the short season, so there may be occasions when starters all get an extra day of rest.

Either way, Davies is healthy and primed to prove last year was no fluke — and that the Darvish trade wasn’t as lopsided as many believe.

Though Darvish turned things around after his injury-marred debut season with the Cubs in 2018, his numbers over the last two years are startlingly similar to Davies’. Darvish had almost twice as many strikeouts per 9 innings as Davies in 2019 and ’20, but otherwise it basically was a push: Darvish was 14-11 with a 3.39 ERA in 43 combined starts, throwing 254 2/3 total innings and averaging 11.4 strikeouts per 9; Davies was 17-11 with the Brewers and Padres, with a 3.30 ERA in 43 starts, throwing 229 innings and averaging 6.5 strikeouts per 9.

Considering Darvish’s contract called for a combined $44 million in salary those two years (before prorated reductions in 2020) and the arbitration-eligible Davies was supposed to earn a combined $7.9 million, it could be argued Davies was the better bargain.

Like Hendricks, Davies is a student of the game and has studied the careers of some of the game’s best pitchers, including starters Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson who learned how to pivot when their velocity decreased over the years, succeeding with guile instead of raw power.

“At one point in their careers they were definitely power guys,” Davies said. “But they had to learn how to pitch at some point, and being able to take from their games and trying to fit small things into mine to develop and adapt at Major League Baseball is something that I looked at.”

Davies and former Pittsburgh Pirates starter Trevor Williams are the biggest wild cards in the Cubs’ 2021 rotation. Every Cubs fan is familiar with what Jake Arrieta can do if he returns to form. But if those two can succeed and pile up innings, it should take a lot of pressure off the bullpen and give the Cubs a chance to compete in what most consider a down year for the National League Central.

“Those are two guys specifically, I’m excited to know more and just pitch alongside,” Hendricks said. “I’ve got to hang out with them in the clubhouse already, and they’re just two super-cool guys, laid back but guys that love to compete and love to win. And that’s what you saw from the other side playing against them … It’s going to be really fun to toe the rubber, go to war with those guys and learn from each other.”

If Kyle Lite can be a low-cal version of Kyle Classic, it could be a refreshing combo for the Cubs.

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