It’s officially gut-check time for the Braves. The next ten days will determine if they are buyers or sellers leading up to the trade deadline, which began Tuesday night against the Padres with Touki Toussaint making his first start of the season. The 25-year-old was placed on the 60-day IL a few months ago with a shoulder injury but has impressed recently in Gwinnett. With Ian Anderson now on the injured list, an opportunity arose for Toussaint, who took full advantage of it by tossing 6.2 innings of one run ball against one of the best offenses in baseball. He only needed 79 pitches to do it too, but despite his success, the Braves still found themselves up just one run when he exited.
Atlanta’s bullpen has been their Achilles heel this season — responsible for 22 of the team’s 47 total losses. They’ve also done some of their worst work in the final three innings. Fortunately on Tuesday, they were nearly flawless. Tyler Matzek got the final out of the seventh inning. Chris Martin worked around one baserunner in the eighth, and Will Smith did the same to shut the door in the ninth.
Toussaint is just another reason to be giddy about the Braves starting rotation of the future. Atlanta already has several proven young arms at the major-league level, and plenty of others look to be on the horizon. Huascar Ynoa, Kyle Muller, Tucker Davidson, and now Toussaint have all shown flashes of brilliance this season. Pitching is oftentimes a numbers game; the Braves have loaded up on pitching through the draft, and it’s beginning to pay off at the highest level. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for Toussaint. This was arguably the best he’s ever looked, but consistency has been the issue for him early in his career.