What are the Braves going to do with Touki Toussaint?

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There were several questions regarding what would happen to the rotation once Ian Anderson returned from the IL. Would Brian Snitker roll with a six-man unit until the five best options sorted themselves out? Would Toussaint, Smyly, Ynoa, or even Anderson become more like a hybrid relief option? Well, it looks like we got our answer this past week, as Toussaint’s spot in the rotation was skipped, and he was used out of the bullpen in yesterday’s 9-0 victory over the Giants, which featured 5.2 scoreless innings from Anderson in his return from a shoulder injury.

MLB.com’s Mark Bowman suggested yesterday’s appearance by Toussaint could be viewed more as a side session since his spot in the rotation was skipped; however, Toussaint isn’t currently listed as one of the upcoming probable starters.

Of course, those aren’t always set in stone, but it would be odd for the Braves to let him go multiple weeks without a start if they don’t plan on moving him to the bullpen.

Brian Snitker spoke about Toussaint after yesterday’s game, but he didn’t provide a clear answer on the plan for the 25-year-old right-hander moving forward. I’m sure we will get one in the coming days, but I hope my gut feeling isn’t correct. As I said on Blooper’s Brigadeour Braves podcast here at SportsTalkATL — a couple of weeks ago, Toussaint has too much upside to move to the bullpen right now with the way he has been pitching.

In seven starts, Toussaint has allowed more than two earned runs just once, leading to a 3.60 ERA on the season. However, if you take out the one outing in which he surrendered seven earned runs over 3.1 innings to the Brewers, it shows just how dominant he’s been nearly every time out. This is a pitcher that has the potential to develop into a top of the rotation arm; he might even be able to provide a similar impact to the one Ian Anderson had on last year’s postseason. It doesn’t make much sense to stop his progression in its tracks while he’s rolling like this.

There is a part of me that understands this decision to a degree, though. The Braves might feel like Toussaint has much more upside out of the bullpen than someone like Drew Smyly. You also have to consider that the Braves relief core lacks high-quality options from the right side. They could use another power-arm like Toussaint back there. Plus, it’s not as if anything is set in stone. If Smyly struggles in his next couple of times out, the Braves could always shuffle things around and put Toussaint back into the rotation. With that being said, I would have liked to see if he could have continued this hot stretch as a starter — a role I believe he projects best in down the road. Hopefully, it doesn’t ruin his progression and come back to bite the Braves in the ass.

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