After an awe-inspiring start last night, fans are buzzing for Touki Toussaint — and rightfully so. It’s important to temper expectations, but it’s hard not to get excited with how confident Touki looked. He proved that he has the makeup and ability to be a frontline starter, and I think he should get the opportunity to continue to do so.
I’ve already talked about how some of these pitching prospects need to get an extended look in Atlanta and yo-yo-ing them back in forth is not a good strategy in my eyes. Ian Anderson and Huascar Ynoa may be close to returning from injury, and both of them are likely to take their natural spots in the rotation back. You would think Toussaint would be pushed back to AAA Gwinnett and given a pat on the back. I think that’s an absurd concept with how poorly Atlanta’s bullpen has been at times.
According to Fangraphs, as a starter, hitters are only batting .156 and slugging .267 against Toussaint when he goes through the order for the first time. Those numbers balloon to .288 and .525 for the second time through. As a reliever, the numbers aren’t as pretty, but Touki can typically hold hitters at bay the first time he sees them.
I think Toussaint has long-term projectability as a frontline starter; he just has to unlock that confidence, trust his stuff, and throw strikes. We saw that last night, and his efficiency was a big key to his success. I see Touki as a starter going forward, but he can help the team now by contributing from the bullpen. With Josh Tomlin still on the roster, I see no reason why Toussaint can’t take over his role. The Braves will still have to add some relief arms at the deadline, but letting Toussaint feel out major league hitting in the pen can benefit the Braves now and in the future.