Touki Toussaint gave us another glimpse of what Atlanta Braves fans know he can be on Tuesday in their win over the San Diego Padres.
Like with a lot of these young Atlanta Braves pitches who have come up and struggled, the question has never been about the stuff.
Whether it’s Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, Sean Newcomb, or Touki — they all have the stuff to be really good big league pitches.
Sometimes it’s just hard for guys to make that adjustment to the bright lights, and sometimes it just takes some guys longer to figure it out.
The Braves hope the latter is the case with Touki who is now finally healthy and dazzled on Tuesday against one of the best teams in baseball.
Touki’s last big league appearance came against the Baltimore Orioles on September 14, 2020, and it was one to forget.
He gave up 8 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and 3 walks over 2.2 innings with 2 strikeouts on 70 pitches.
Making his return to the big leagues on Tuesday, he allowed the Padres to score just 1 earned run on 3 hits and 2 walks over 6.2 innings with 5 strikeouts in just 79 pitches.
That’s quite the difference.
Of course, we’ve seen flashes like this before from Touki. The 25-year-old was really good in a start against the Blue Jays last year (we could have used him against the Blue Jays this year).
And in his first start of 2019 he blanked the New York Mets over 6 innings on just 4 hits with 7 strikeouts.
Going back to his rookie season in 2018 he made 5 starts of 5 innings or more where he gave up 2 runs or less.
Again, we all know it’s there, we just have to see it on a consistent basis.
Perhaps there is hope this time. Even his starts coming back from injury this year were solid.
He had one rough outing in Gwinnett. If you take that start out he allowed just 5 earned runs on 7 hits and 9 walks over 20.2 innings pitched.
The walks have always been a concern and probably always will be. In that bad start at Gwinnett, he walked five batters.
But if he has good movement on his pitches and is able to create weak contact as he has so far this year, he has the ability to work around the walks.
On Tuesday he threw 51 sinkers at an average velocity of 92.4 MPH. Batters swung at 25 of those pitches and only whiffed twice, so it’s not like he was blowing it by hitters.
Seventeen of those sinkers were put in play with an average exit velocity of 88.9 MPH. He got 14 outs on that sinker.
The Padres only got two hits on the sinker and both of those were in the 7th — the last two batters he faced — the other hit he allowed came off the splitter.
Spin rate on that sinker averaged 2150 with a max of 2369. That’s right in line with where it’s been his entire big league career.
While I want to be optimistic and hopeful about Touki, he was hit really hard in this game. He gave up 10 hard-hit balls (balls hit over 95 MPH) and only two of them went for hits.
According to Baseball Savant, six of those hit balls had an xBA of .330 or higher.
Now, to his credit, part of that has to do with the movement on that sinker and he was able to get hitters on top of it to ground out. Touki had 8 groundouts in this game.
And while the sinker is his primary pitch, he has a very good curveball and decent splitter that he’s able to put hitters away with.
He got three swings-and-misses on each of those pitches, four called strikes on the curveball, and three of his strikeouts came on the splitter.
I’m certainly not ready to announce a huge breakout for Touki — the metrics indicate that’s probably not the case. But he was great on Tuesday for the Braves against a good team and as long as he is able to limit the walks and keep hitters on top of his sinker, he’ll be alright.