The Braves opted to call up Tucker Davidson for his first start of the season on May 18th, and he responded pretty well, tossing six innings of three-run ball. For several reasons, I understood why they sent him back to Gwinnett after the start. He didn’t receive another look in the majors until June 3rd, but once again, he was extremely impressive. Despite walking five, he held the Nationals scoreless over 5.2 innings, allowing just one hit. Like clockwork, the Braves sent him back to AAA; however, the wait for his next appearance in the bigs was much shorter.
Wednesday was perhaps the best start to date for the 24-year-old southpaw. Davidson found a bit of trouble in each of the first two innings, thanks to three hits and a walk, but he was able to get out of the jam both times and really found a groove over his last four frames. Davidson only allowed two more baserunners the rest of the way — an error in the third by Austin Riley and a double in the fourth. He would set the Phillies down in order in the fifth and sixth innings before exiting with a final line of 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, and 4 Ks on 90 pitches.
I completely understand why the Braves sent Davidson down after each of his first two starts, but it’s time to give this man a permanent spot in the rotation. Not only has he dominated in the majors, but he’s also made light work of AAA bats, boasting a 0.90 ERA with 23 strikeouts over 20 innings.
On top of that, the Braves only have three reliable starters that are healthy. After Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Charlie Morton, the rotation is full of question marks. I talked earlier today about how the Drew Smyly experiment should end, and I 100% stand by that. His numbers after the first time through the order suggest success will be hard to come by. With that being said, I do think Smyly could find a role in the bullpen, which was the culprit for the Braves’ loss on Wednesday.
Despite Davidson’s gem, Atlanta’s bullpen couldn’t hold on; this time, it was Will Smith. He came on in the ninth with a chance to shut the door, but with two outs and a runner on, Luke Williams snuck one over the short porch in left field for a heartbreaking walk-off homer. The loss prevented the Braves from eclipsing the .500 mark for the first time all season, and it also cost Davidson his first major-league win.
However, as much as I want to talk about how disappointing the Braves bullpen has been in the late innings, the story on Wednesday was Davidson. He’s on fire and very well may be the next piece of the puzzle to Atlanta’s rotation now and in the future.