Tucker Davidson, World Series champion. If you had that on your 2021 predictions list, especially after his lengthy injury layoff, you are a soothsayer of epic proportions. Lo and behold, Davidson rose from Gwinnett to take the mound in the World Series for the Atlanta Braves. Here’s a look at how he got there.
Midseason report card: Davidson came in at No. 7 on the Talking Chop Midseason Top 30. That was a four-spot jump from the preseason rankings.
- Gwinnett: 2-2, 1.17 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 28 strikeouts and 5 walks in 23 innings
- Atlanta: 0-0, 3.60 ERA, 1/15 WHIP, 18 strikeouts and 8 walks in 20 innings
What we saw in 2021: All was not lost on Davidson in the odd season that was 2020. He was not only able to fine-tune his newfound velocity, but made his MLB debut on September 26. He carried that momentum over to the 2021 season.
In Gwinnett, we saw Davidson utilize his four-pitch mix well. His mid-90s fastball is his bread and butter, and a large part of that is in his command and ability to locate it well. He came to the Braves’ int he 2016 MLB draft with what some considered the best slider in the JUCO circuit and he worked hard to refine that to a sharp and dangerous weapon. Add in a curveball and changeup and Davidson is an imposing force as long as he can command and locate.
He was utterly dominant to start the season in Gwinnett, allowing just two earned runs and going at least six innings in each of his three starts. After a spot start in Atlanta in May, he became an official part of the Braves’ rotation by June. His first two starts were exciting as he allowed just five hits and no runs over 11.2 innings. However, he labored through just 2.1 innings on June 15, with his overpowering velocity lower than usual. A week later he was on the 60-day IL and returned to Gwinnett on Oct. 3 for three innings.
What the future holds: Obviously the Braves have faith in Davidson. To call on him to start a World Series game with just three innings pitched since June shows what the Braves think. And to be fair, he came out and sat the top of the Houston Astros’ order down quickly before the wheels came off a bit in the second inning.
Davidson can be a big-league starting pitcher. Being able to throw four pitches well gives him every chance to at least compete for a spot in 2022 rotation, albeit it will be a tough spot to crack if everyone is healthy. The worst case scenario is Davidson gets time to continue to hone his pitches for a bit in Gwinnett, which hardly seems like a “worst case”. His ability to pump that fastball with a nice breaking ball always leaves a bullpen role in the cards for the young lefty.