680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – While it was just one start, Thursday night’s outing from Touki Toussaint was exactly what the Braves needed. Toussaint was electric through six-and-two-thirds, allowing three earned but the most impressive parts of his statline? Nine strikeouts and zero walks. For a guy that’s battled consistency with his fastball command, Touki was dialed in from the first pitch of last night’s game. Toussaint sat down the first nine Blue Jays batters faced through three perfect innings. He’d limit the damage to just one run in the fourth, giving up a solo shot to Bo Bichette on the first pitch of the inning. The third run was scored after Toussaint was removed from the game, as Tyler Matzek surrendered a game-tying RBI single to Teoscar Hernadnez in the seventh. Regardless, Toussaint pitched much, much better than that final line would even indicate.
For a Braves rotation that has changed drastically in the last few weeks, the team is looking for somebody, anybody to step up. While there were encouraging signs from Sean Newcomb on Wednesday night, Thursday night was huge for the 24 year old right hander. While it’s just one start, Toussaint showed the promise the club has expected when they traded for him in June of 2015. One of the most impressive adjustments Toussaint made last night was the ability to quick pitch certain batters. His deception with the slider has been a big change for him in the new year, but altering the timing of certain hitters was apparent on Thursday night.
While we still don’t know who the team will turn to on Saturday night in the spot vacated by Mike Soroka, it will likely either end up being Bryse Wilson or lefty Tyler Matzek, who has been one of the biggest surprises of the new year. The club could also turn to an “opener” and utilize a guy like Josh Tomlin out of the pen for a long reliever to cover four to five innings. While that option was never realistic in years past, the universal DH is now allowing National League teams to get more creative in this condensed season.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.