Tucker Davidson, Braves try to take series vs. Phillies

MLB

For rookie left-hander Tucker Davidson, Wednesday night’s start at the Philadelphia Phillies represents another opportunity to show he might be a long-term solution for the hole left in the Atlanta Braves’ starting rotation.

Davidson (0-0, 2.31 ERA) is the latest young pitcher to get a chance to replace Huascar Ynoa (broken hand) in the rotation. He made a good case for another start Thursday in Atlanta’s 5-1 win over Washington, throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings that were marred only by five walks.

Davidson was no-decisioned because he left with the game tied at 0. The Braves scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth, which served to give reliever Josh Tomlin the win.

This will be Davidson’s third start with Atlanta this year. He worked six innings against the New York Mets May 18, yielding five hits and three runs with three walks and five strikeouts.

“The two starts that we’ve seen, he deserves a crack at this thing,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “We’ll just keep running with him for a while.”

A 19th-round pick in 2016 out of Midland College in Texas, Davidson made his mark in 2019, pitching to a 2.03 earned run average in 21 starts at Double-A Mississippi while averaging around 10 strikeouts per nine innings. He made his MLB debut last September, permitting seven runs in 1 2/3 innings on Sept. 26 in a loss to Boston.

Snitker has noticed changes from that Davidson to this one.

“You can tell watching him on the mound, he’s not the same guy,” Snitker said. “He’s a lot more calm and confident.”

Davidson should be confident, if only because Ronald Acuna, Jr. is in the Atlanta lineup. Acuna went 3-for-4 Tuesday night and knocked in three runs as the Braves rallied for a 9-5 win over Philadelphia in the series opener.

One of Acuna’s hits was his 18th homer, tying him with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the MLB lead. It traveled an estimated 460 feet to the second deck at Citizens Bank Park at 116 mph, the hardest-hit ball of Acuna’s career.

Still, the Phillies were in position to win the game when they took a 5-4 lead to the eighth inning. But Connor Brogdon and Sam Coonrod combined to cough up five runs, preventing them from getting closer to the .500 mark.

The result wasted home runs by Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, along with a comeback from deficits of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2. Harper belted his first homer since May 11 when he cranked out a solo shot in the fourth, his eighth of the year.

Philadelphia will turn to right-hander Zach Eflin (2-5, 4.10) to square the series. Eflin last pitched on May 30, going 4 2/3 innings and yielding four runs on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts in a 6-2 loss at Tampa Bay.

“My command really wasn’t there today,” he said. “I was spraying it all over.”

Eflin has experienced success in 12 previous starts against Atlanta, going 6-3 with a 3.41 ERA and holding the Braves to a .239 batting average while inducing 12 double-play balls — the most he’s gotten from any opponent.

–Field Level Media

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