Touki Toussaint was another once-famous pitcher for the Atlanta Braves but just couldn’t pull it all together during his time at the club. He was overtaken by younger options on the internal depth chart and eventually traded to the Angels for a fresh start.
The Braves acquired Touki Toussaint and Bronson Arroyo from the Diamondbacks in exchange for Phil Gosselin in the 2015 season. Amusingly, Gosselin returned to the Braves in a major league capacity that year, while Toussaint left in 2022 for the first time in five seasons performed for the Big League Braves.
Atlanta picked Toussaint for the July 2 assignment and he was traded to the Angels for cash the next day.
What were the expectations?
Toussaint came into the spring as part of the group of pitchers hoping to land one of the last spots in the Braves rotation. He hadn’t shown any real effectiveness at the major league level since his debut season in 2018, posting a career-high 50 innings with -0.2 fWAR and a good-for-him-but-not-that-much-in. general 108 xFIP- last year. Consequently, he was projected as a Level-type backup arm before the start of the season.
Atlanta selected Toussaint to minor league camp in late March and he started the season with Gwinnett. He was recalled to the major league roster on April 19 as the Braves attempted to shuffle into fresh arms after a series of brief outings from their starters. However, his stay was short-lived as he was returned to Gwinnett two days later without appearing in a game.
Toussaint struggled to gain traction with Gwinnett this time, struggling with a 6.26 ERA, 5.31 FIP and 4.00 xFIP while allowing 42 hits in 41 2/3 innings. He was more effective in a smaller sample at Triple-A’s in 2021 and 2018.
The move to the Angels gave Toussaint a fresh start and he appeared in eight games at the stretch, including two starts. Results on the field after the trade weren’t great (4.62 ERA, 4.81 FIP, 19 BB in 25 1/3 innings), but it was better than Gwinnett’s in the same situation as the last three seasons to spin his wheels. He ended 2022 with 0.0 fWAR and a 117/119/121 line (ERA-/FIP-/xFIP-), which is basically the exact same thing he did in the majors prior to 2022.
What went right? What went wrong?
Toussaint didn’t pitch a major-league-level pitch for the Braves in 2022, so not much to share here. He’s gone somewhere where he has more opportunities to contribute, so the trade seems positive for that reason.
Overall, Toussaint’s problems aren’t unlike those of some other pitchers who haven’t made an impact with the Braves: His secondaries (curve and split) are pretty good, but the fastball stuff is abominable. Over the years, Toussaint has experimented with trading his sinker for a fourseamer and back again, throwing both, being a guy who turns first, and so on, but none of that really helped. His command is generally terrible and his fastballs don’t pan out, and for whatever reason he’s never resorted to a pure curve-split approach and has mostly maintained a multi-pitch mix for better or worse (mostly worse). . Refining his command a little has resulted in his fastballs getting thrown in the middle (with better position for his secondaries), but even 2022 was a great example of his ongoing troubles: he actually made his split do it , landing consistently around the bottom edge to great effect, and the curveball was nasty despite going everywhere, but the sinker didn’t really sink, missing the zone too often and being right in the whistle when it didn’t. Shot.
Toussaint will be attending spring training in hopes of finding a role on the Angels’ pitching staff. A full-time move to the bullpen could be the right balm at this point. Still, he needs to figure out how to pull out the top league players with what he’s got or develop something else because we’re now almost 3,000 pitches into his major league career and his inputs and outputs look like this: