Braves pitcher Tucker Davidson wants to take fifth starter job and run with it

Braves starter Tucker Davidson allowed only three hits over five scoreless innings against the Brewers in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Credit: AP

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Braves starter Tucker Davidson allowed only three hits over five scoreless innings against the Brewers in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Credit: AP

MIAMI — Tucker Davidson sees the opportunity in front of him as, well, just that.

“I view it that they’re giving me the opportunity to come up here and start, and every fifth day could be mine,” he said Sunday. “And I think that’s something I need to take and run away with, and kind of say, ‘This is going to be my job and I’m going to give the team a chance to win every fifth day.’”

The left-hander will make his second start of the season Monday versus the Phillies in Atlanta. Last time out, he allowed only three hits over five scoreless innings against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

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The Braves need him to, as he said, take the job and run with it.

Tyler Matzek’s placement on the injured list means Spencer Strider is a more concrete piece in the bullpen now. Strider could still pitch in different roles as a reliever, but it appears most of his work might come in the later innings because he’s been so consistent and reliable.

For Davidson, this opportunity requires a balanced mindset. He is excited and wants to make the most of this run in the majors – and try to make it as long as possible – but he also knows he can’t press too hard. He needs to be himself.

“You’ve got to stay within yourself,” Davidson said. “You can’t make it too big, too big of a moment. I think it’s just more of staying under control, pulling back when you have to or stepping on the gas when you have to. Just kind of realizing that you’re going to learn throughout each start, you’re going to keep continuing to learn throughout the year. Just kind of minimize the damage when you can and just kind of give everybody a chance.”

After Davidson pitched versus Washington on April 11, the Braves optioned him. He posted a 4.44 ERA over 26 ⅓ innings in Triple-A and hurled five frames of one-run baseball in his final start before the Braves brought him back up to join them.

The time in Triple-A allowed Davidson to experience some consistency. After a shortened spring training, he didn’t pitch for almost a week. But going down to the minors allowed him to get back into his routines.

In Monday’s start, he wants to “just kind of build momentum, kind of keep it going, continue to attack the zone and let our defense work.”

“I think it’s more of a mindset, but it comes down to executing it as well,” Davidson said of attacking the zone. “If you’re consistently in the zone, good things are going to happen to you. If you’re able to be around the strike zone, they’re going to have to put the ball into play; they’re going to be more defensive.”

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William Contreras improving defensively

You are hearing and reading about William Contreras because of the pop in his bat, but his manager and teammates have applauded his defensive improvement as well.

“Really, all facets,” Kyle Wright said when asked what area stands out most defensively. “I feel like he’s always had a great arm, so he’s always been good that way, throwing guys out. But I think for me, it’s just the pitch-calling. That’s been really, really good. I feel like every time I’ve thrown to him, we’ve been on the same page from the start. He has a really good understanding of what I like to do as a pitcher, and that’s how he’s going. I feel like when the game kind of speeds up a little bit, he does a good job of slowing me down, taking a visit, talking in the dugout, whatever it may be.”

In addition to how Contreras called the game, Wright also mentioned how Contreras kept a ball in front of him in the fourth inning Saturday after he yanked a pitch.

Contreras is only 24 years old. He has only made 59 starts at catcher since 2020.

“Tools. Skills,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Doesn’t spend a lot of energy, he can throw. He’s getting better. He’s calming down, he’s getting better calling the game, as he will with experience.”

Added Wright: “Just very mature. He’s just been a lot of fun to watch this year.”

Another sign of growth for Kyle Wright

This season, it feels like we’re constantly adding to the list of signs of growth for Wright.

Here is one more: Wright on Saturday didn’t have his curveball … and still made it through five scoreless innings.

“For me to be able to use the fastball and the change-up effectively and find a way to piece those innings together was huge, for sure,” he said.

Wright threw 37 sinkers, 18 change-ups and 18 curveballs Saturday. But overall this season, he’s thrown more curveballs than any other pitch.

Without his best stuff, he found a way to continue his breakout season.