How’s this for a roster move no one saw coming? Yes, Tucker Davidson has been optioned down to Triple-A Gwinnett after his most recent outing, but his replacement is... Jesus Cruz?
The #Braves today selected RHP Jesús Cruz to the major league roster after optioning LHP Tucker Davidson to Triple-A Gwinnett following yesterday’s game. The club also released RHP Tyler Thornburg.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) May 29, 2022
The 27-year-old Cruz was a recent addition to Atlanta’s minor league system after spending the bulk of his career in the Cardinals’ system. He was released in March 2022 (after making the back half of the Cardinals’ top prospect list per Fangraphs), and scooped up by the Braves.
Cruz has a 2.84/3.62/2.35 line so far at Gwinnett, pitching 12 2/3 innings across 11 appearances. He has one career major league inning, where he allowed two runs, three hits, one walk, and got two strikeouts in 2020. As a 35+ FV up-and-down relief arm, Cruz is probably more of a warm body than anything else for the bullpen, though it is worth noting here that the Braves don’t even use their better relievers much, so the need for a last-guy-in-the-bullpen type is fairly slim. The Braves are 17th in relief innings and relief batters faced, they only have one guy in the top 30 in relief batters faced (Spencer Strider), and only four in the top 100, all in the 60-90 range (A.J. Minter, Kenley Jansen, Will Smith). Coming into Sunday’s game, Jansen and Minter have thrown just once in four days, Collin McHugh once in three days, Jackson Stephens and Jesse Chavez once in five days, Will Smith once in four days, etc. etc. You get the idea.
Tucker Davidson returns to the minors after a pretty uninspiring run in the rotation. While he kept runs to a minimum in two of his three starts, his, K/BB ratios were 3/3, 4/2, and 4/3, which is not a recipe for success.
Tyler Thornburg’s 5.30 xFIP in 9 1⁄3 innings as a Brave likely kept him from being claimed on waivers, but he seemed healthy and will likely latch on somewhere — Cruz is apparently his current replacement as bullpen guy who won’t be used much.