Tucker Davidson may have made his major-league debut in 2020, but it came during the last series of the season after the Braves had already wrapped up the NL East. Winning or losing didn’t matter much… that wasn’t the case tonight as Davidson took the mound versus the first-place Mets, hoping to even the series and move within two games of New York for the division lead. Unfortunately, the Braves were unable to pull out the victory, but it surely wasn’t because of Davidson.
The 24-year-old lefty was dominant in Gwinnett before receiving the call, allowing just one run in 14 innings (0.64 ERA) and only ten total baserunners (0.714 WHIP). You could see tonight why. Davidson wasn’t perfect, but he showcased something so many young pitchers struggle with early in their careers — control. He walked just one batter and — for the most part — cruised through six innings on just 72 pitches.
The Mets were able to cross the plate three times on Davidson, and those are mistakes he’ll learn from. With the score knotted at zero in the third inning, Davidson lazily gave up a single to the pitcher Tommy Hunter, and New York took advantage. Jonathan Villar was the next batter to come to the plate, who hit a monster shot over the left-center field walk to give the Mets a 2-0 advantage. It was a meatball over the middle of the plate by Davidson — one of the few mistakes he made all night.
Davidson was able to keep his composure, though, which was another impressive aspect of his first start of the season. He recorded the final out of the third inning and then allowed just one baserunner in the fourth and fifth frames combined. More trouble loomed in the sixth when Lindor hit a ground-rule double on an 0-2 pitch to begin the inning — another mistake he’ll learn from. There’s no reason a star player like Lindor should be getting a hittable pitch in that situation. An infield single then led to runners on the corners with nobody out, but Davidson was able to take a deep breath and limit the damage to just one run, finishing with a final line of 6 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, and 5 Ks.
That’s about all the Braves could have asked for from the rookie — he gave the team a chance to win, and they were almost able to pull off the comeback. A 7th inning moonshot off the bat of Freddie Freeman pulled Atlanta to within one, and they were able to tie it in the 8th after a Marcell Ozuna single drove in Ehire Adrianza. However, the bullpen once again could not do their job in the final frame. This time it was Will Smith, who — after recording two quick outs — surrendered a home run off the bat of Tomas Nido. Atlanta couldn’t answer in the bottom half of the inning, leading to their third straight loss and dropping them four games back of the Mets in the division.
The end result could not have been more frustrating, but Davidson provided a bright spot. With Ynoa out for a couple of months and Soroka unlikely to return this season, the Braves need at least one more reliable arm in the rotation. It may only be one start, but Davidson looked the part on Tuesday, and he certainly deserves another opportunity to prove he belongs again in five days.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire