With all the rotation options at the Braves disposal, I wasn’t surprised one bit after Tucker Davidson was sent back to AAA following his first start of the season, even though I — like most of Braves country — really liked what I saw out of the 25-year-old southpaw. He went six innings in a crucial outing against the division-leading Mets, allowing three earned runs to go along with five strikeouts. It wasn’t perfect, but he gave the Braves a chance to win, which is really all you can ask for out of a player making his second career big-league start.
Two weeks later today, Davidson got his second opportunity of 2021 at the major-league level, hoping to help the Braves snap a two-game skid, and he was nearly perfect. Davidson didn’t allow a run over 5.2 innings and surrendered just one hit. He did walk five, but even with his free passes, he was missing by inches. The southpaw never looked rattled, and he kept the Braves tied until their bats finally got hot.
Unfortunately, Davidson could not get out of the 6th inning — as Snitker turned to Josh Tomlin for the final out, which he recorded — because the Braves’ offense finally woke up in the bottom half of the frame. An Ozzie Albies single brought home Ronald Acuna, and Austin Riley followed it up with an RBI double of his own; then Dansby Swanson broke it open with a mammoth shot into the left-field seats. On paper, Davidson might not have picked up his first major-league win, but he certainly deserved it.
A 19th round pick in the 2016 draft, Davidson has rocketed up prospect ranks since 2019 when he dominated AA ball, posting a 2.03 ERA in 21 starts, which earned him a promotion to AAA late in the year. There wasn’t much of a drop-off for the Stripers either, as he recorded a 2.84 ERA in four starts. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see him much last season because of COVID, but it looks like he made the most of the little work he was able to get in because he’s been absolutely flawless so far in 2021.
In Gwinnett, Davidson boasts a minuscule 0.90 ERA to go along with a 0.600 WHIP; he’s struck out 23 compared to just four walks in 20 innings of work. His two starts in the majors have been equally impressive, allowing just three runs over 11.2 innings. It’s clear as day that this young man is ready to be a part of the rotation permanently, and while I do expect the Braves to continue to send him up and down, it won’t be long before he’s throwing every five days if Drew Smyly keeps floundering.
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