Braves: What to expect from Tucker Davidson in his MLB debut

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In the second to last game of this shortened season, Braves’ fans are in for a treat, as one of their top pitching prospects, Tucker Davidson, is slated to make his MLB debut against the Red Sox. 

If you have followed the site for long, you know I’ve been a big fan of Tucker Davidson, and not just because he’s a friend of the SportsTalkATL Podcast. The southpaw was among the biggest risers in the Braves’ farm system after an eye-popping 2019 campaign. 

Davidson, who was 23 at the time, began last season in Mississippi and posted a minuscule 2.03 ERA with 122 strikeouts over 110.2 innings. Those numbers led to a promotion at the end of the season, alongside a fellow teammate who we have come to know very well this year, Ian Anderson. However, it was actually Davidson that had more success in his first stint with the Stripers

While Anderson struggled to keep his ERA below seven in Gwinnett last season, Davidson didn’t miss a beat in his transition, posting a 2.84 ERA over his last four starts of the year, and the hype has only grown around the now 24-year-old since.

Davidson spent the offseason with Driveline — a training camp that relies heavily on analytics to help their players get the most out of their abilities. They emphasize no wasted movements, and it’s resulted in a substantial increase in velocity for Davidson. Over his time there, we’ve seen the lefty touch 100 MPH on the gun when he was typically sitting in the low 90s a couple of years ago. 

He’ll probably sit in the mid-90s on Saturday night. However, that uptick in velocity helped him continue his progression in Spring Training, where he looked like he might be one of the first young pitchers called up this season. 

As far as the rest of his pitching profile, our own Clint Manry provided us with that over the offseason. Here’s an excerpt from his piece: 

Currently, Davidson carries what I’d call a three-and-a-half-pitch repertoire. His 4-seam fastball is effective for the simple fact that it’s coming in from the left side while sitting at 92-94 mph. Occasionally he’ll ramp it up to 95-96 mph, but the only drawback is that it’s rather flat. For him, that’s OK, as Davidson wields one of the better curveballs in the Braves’ system, which at the end of the day, will be his go-to offering for swings-and-misses. The changeup isn’t elite yet, but it isn’t poor either. The pitch is good enough to keep hitters honest when they’re trying to sit on his heater. 

Then there’s the half-a-pitch, which is Davidson’s slurve. He doesn’t throw it very often — sometimes going several starts without tossing it at all — and until reading a few scouting reports, I didn’t even know what it was. It looks sort of like a slurve, and several reports call it a slurve… so we’ll say it’s a slurve. 

For whatever reason, it took this long for Davidson to receive the call. We don’t know what’s going on every day at Gwinnett camp, but we will get to see him at least once this season. It’s probably a long-shot that he makes the playoff roster. But given the state of the Braves’ starting pitchers, if Davidson pitches a gem, and Bryse Wilson struggles tomorrow, it is not out of the realm of possibility. One thing is for sure: Saturday’s game just went from meaningless to a must-watch for Braves’ fans everywhere. 

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