Braves: Grading Dylan Dodd’s MLB debut

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After last night’s win in St. Louis, Dylan Dodd said that he was the most nervous he’s ever been on the mound during his MLB debut, but nobody could tell based off the results.

With injuries already nagging the rotation and Jared Shuster performing poorly in his MLB debut, the Braves desperately needed the 2021 third-round pick out of Missouri State to show them something, which he did — and then some on Tuesday night.

Up against one of the best lineups in the league, Dodd was brilliant. It wasn’t always easy, but it never is going to be against the Cardinals. Dodd left a few too many over the heart of the plate, and there were several hard-hit balls, but every time he found trouble he was able to make the necessary pitches to get out of the jam. It also helped that the defense behind him played spectacularly.

Dodd’s first real sense of trouble came in the fourth inning. A couple of singles put runners on first and second for Willson Contreras, who barely snuck a ball under Ronald Acuña Jr.’s glove for the Cardinals first run of the game. However, Contreras got greedy and tried to stretch the single into a double, to which Acuña said absolutely not.

That was the first of two assists for Acuña on the night, and both were pivotal to the Braves earning the victory. The second came on a play at the plate in which Tyler O’Neill was thrown out by nearly 20 feet in the bottom of the seventh, squashing a potential late rally for St. Louis.

Dodd also found some trouble in the fifth inning. A double put runners on second and third with two outs, but he was able to coax Tommy Edman to fly out to end the inning, which would be his last batter of the game.

Dodd’s final stat line read five innings, allowing six hits and one run with three strikeouts on just 73 pitches. He probably could have gone a little longer, but I thought Brian Snitker made a wonderful decision taking him out when he did. Dodd had done more than enough to win the game, and he was set up to face the heart of the Cardinals lineup for the third time. Snitker trusted his bullpen, and it helped Dodd earn a win in his MLB debut.

I’m not sure I can say anything negative about Dodd’s first start in the bigs. Despite his nerves, he looked remarkably poised on the mound, and his control was excellent, allowing no free passes against a lineup where danger lurks around every corner. Unlike Shuster, he was up for the challenge, and I can’t wait to see him toe the rubber again on Sunday.

Grade: A+

Photo: Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire

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