The Braves, ostensibly, had little to play for. They could have locked up the NL’s No. 2 seed for the playoffs, but that was about it — had we had standard September expanded rosters, who knows what would’ve happened? But, we do know what actually happened — an absolutely wild, this-is-why-you-watch-baseball game where the Braves came back multiple times, Ronald Acuña Jr. straight-obliterated a baseball, and of course, Freddie Freeman, who didn’t even start the game, hit a walkoff homer to give his team an improbable victory.
So, with their place in the playoff seeding hierarchy sewn up, what do the Braves do as an encore to get people to tune in to the regular season’s penultimate game? Why, let Tucker Davidson make his major league debut, of course. A 19th-round pick in the 2016 amateur draft, Davidson breezed through his first two professional stops before an okay-but-not-great showing in High-A with the Florida Fire Frogs. He then posted a great 2.03 ERA / 3.01 FIP / 3.13 xFIP in 21 starts at Double-A last year, which earned him a promotion to Gwinnett, where he put up a 2.84 ERA / 4.10 FIP / 5.82 xFIP in four starts. Davidson ranks sixth among Braves prospects per Fangraphs (45+ FV) and finished tenth on Talking Chop’s preseason list. It’s unclear what expectations are for him in this cup-of-coffee outing; perhaps there aren’t any, but it should be a fun time nonetheless.
The Red Sox, who at 22-36 have been playing out the season string for weeks now, are also giving the ball to a recent prospect — Tanner Houck. The big righty was a first-round pick in 2017 and never really wowed in the minors, including moving into a relief role in Triple-A last season, but made his debut a couple of weeks ago, because hey, why not? He’s made a couple of starts so far and has yet to give up an earned run, throwing five scoreless against the Marlins (7 K, 3 BB) in his debut, and then one-hitting the Yankees (4 K, 3 BB) for six innings five days later. Houck has primarily worked off his slider so far while mixing in two fastballs, and occasionally throws a splitter to lefties. The slider has been devastating in his small sample so far, and both of his fastballs have sink, especially his two-seamer, which tends to dart downward late. As with basically every young pitcher, Houck has command issues, so we’ll see what happens when he faces this juggernaut offense.
Saturday, September 26, 2020
7:10 pm EDT
Truist (lol) Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Fox Sports South, MLB.tv
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM
XM Radio: XM 177 (Streaming 841)