Tucker Davidson had a big test in his final Spring Training start, as he faced the Dodgers in the first game of the Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium. Phil Nevin put the pressure on the southpaw saying that this start could determine the final spot in the Los Angeles Angels rotation, and Davidson, for the most part, delivered.
Facing what could be the Dodgers' Opening Day lineup with Clayton Kershaw opposing him, Davidson had his hands full. He made a couple of mistakes, but for the most part, pitched quite well.
Tucker Davidson's last Spring Training outing should be enough to give him the final rotation spot
Davidson allowed two runs in 4.1 innings pitched and threw 75 pitches. After a perfect first inning, Davidson allowed back-to-back home runs to Max Muncy and Chris Taylor. Muncy's home run appeared to be wind-aided, but this is a results business and wind-aided home runs count the same.
It's never good to allow back-to-back home runs, but Davidson really settled in from there, retiring ten of the next 12 batters he'd face before Phil Nevin took him out. He allowed two runs on three hits with one walk and one strikeout over 4.1 innings of work.
What's really encouraged me about Davidson's spring is his newfound ability to throw strikes. He struck out 20 batters while walking just four this spring in 17.1 innings of work. He struck out 33 and walked 35 in 52 innings last season splitting time with Atlanta and the Angels. The strikeouts are way up and the walks are way down.
Everything in Spring Training should be taken with a grain of salt, but this to me is a very encouraging sign for Davidson who struggled mightily as an Angel and has struggled in his MLB career.
Griffin Canning has pitched better than Davidson this spring in the grand scheme of things, but the reason I'd have Davidson on the roster over him comes down to the options. Do the Angels really want to lose Davidson for nothing just to have Griffin Canning, a guy who won't start a game for a while, on the roster?
Depth is so important in a 162-game season, and the Angels would look a whole lot better with Griffin Canning as their next man up instead of someone like Chase Silseth who seems to have real issues navigating the second time through a lineup.
Davidson having an outing similar to the one he had last night is what the Angels should expect. He kept them in it even after allowing the home runs. On most nights, this offense will score more than three runs. It's hard to hit against Clayton Kershaw which is why he's a future Hall of Famer.
Angels fans won't want to hear this, but I think Davidson as the sixth starter is the best course of action for now. If he makes a couple of starts and doesn't pitch well, the Angels can cut bait for Canning.