The Colorado Rockies have spent the vast majority of 2023 in desperate search of some good news.

And they may just have found some in the form of Noah Davis.

Called up to replace the injured German Marquez, Davis made the first start of his MLB career against the Seattle Mariners on April 16 and did something this team hasn’t seen out of the last three spots in the rotation this year; he pitched a really good baseball game.

Against a team, and a lineup, that expects to compete for the highest of honors this season, Davis twirled five shutout innings

“It was awesome,” he told me a few days later. “I just tried not to let it become too big of a thing in my head, not be too intimidated by the moment.” 

Appreciating the moment mostly came the next day. “It was cool to look back and see my pitches on a big league broadcast,” he says.

There were two moments of tension that defined the outing and perhaps showed us a bit of why Davis may have some staying power in the Bigs despite a lack of overwhelming stuff. (Though, his sinker is pretty good.)

The first came in the bottom of the second when a comebacker off the bat of Teoscar Hernandez nearly caught Davis in the head but instead only took his hat off.

I asked him if it was the kind of thing that locked him in even more, intensifying his focus, or if it was more of a scary close call that he needed to calm himself down from.

“More the second one,” he laughs. “Maybe rattled me for a second but I feel like I got myself under control and luckily we got an out on the play so I was able to kina reset with nobody on base, take a minute and get the PitchCom back in my hat and get ready for the next hitter.” 

Again, though, the rookie managed to put it out of mind and get back to the task at hand only to be reminded later about his near miss.

“After that inning I kinda forgot that even happened until I went back after the game and saw a bunch of Tweets and replays… it was a lot closer of a play than I initially thought.”

A less dangerous and more standard difficult situation popped up in his fifth and final inning of work. He began with a no-no, issuing a leadoff walk to speedster Jared Kelenic. Predictably, Kelenic took off for second in the 0-0 game and Rockies catcher Brian Serven unleashed a throw that was actually pretty good and might have gotten the runner had Ryan McMahon been able to apply a nifty tag at second.

But the throw had late tail on it and the ball skipped away from McMahon, not only allowing Kelenic to steal second but also to move up to third base with nobody out. Without having given up a hit, Davis was now in position to give up the lead on a groundball or medium-deep flyball.

But he struck out A.J. Pollock, got Kolton Wong to pop out in foul territory, and did the same to young superstar Julio Rodriguez to escape the inning unscathed.

“Having a runner on third with less than two outs, generally that runner is gonna score so our focus was just on getting the hitter out,” Davis told me. “If he scores, he scores. Luckily we were able to get a strikeout which got us in a good position and then just made some pitches to get out of it.”

A lot of hitters will tell you that when they are trying to hit home runs, they don’t. They tend to go into slumps. Many of the big flies come when they are relaxed and just trying to make good contact and end up making great contact. Davis says that a similar principle can be applied to his approach on the mound.

“I’ve found that when I get in trouble, it’s when I’m trying to strike a guy out. When I just focus on executing my pitches, the rest will take care of itself. Try not to focus too much on the result. Just execute pitches.”

In his second outing in and against Philadelphia, he executed more pitches, allowing a single run over 4.2 IP while striking out 5 and not walking a batter.

That brings him to a (very early) season total of 9.2 IP with a K rate of 9.31, a BB rate of 2.79 and an ERA of 0.93.

Of course a ton of caveats apply at this point but that is unequivocally and dramatically better than what the Rockies had gotten out of any of the last three spots in their rotation this year.

This is why Davis has a spot until further notice and he will manage to keep one for a while if he keeps his head on his shoulders… and, for the most part, his hat on his head.