Toussaint’s rotation spot in jeopardy after Braves lose to Rockies

By Gabriel Burns

ATLANTA -- The Braves staged a late rally but fell short in the series opener against the Rockies at Truist Park on Tuesday, 5-4.

Here are five takeaways from Tuesday:

1. Starter Touki Toussaint completed just three innings in each of his past two outings. This time, he went only an inning longer. Toussaint exited with none out in the fifth after surrendering a go-ahead two-run homer to Brendan Rodgers, which was the second home run Toussaint allowed on the night.

Toussaint was charged with four earned runs on five hits. He struck out five and walked three. When the right-hander came off the injured list in late July, he looked like a new pitcher. He surrendered two or fewer runs in six of his first seven starts. He’s since regressed, especially in his last three outings.

He’s walked seven hitters over his last seven innings. Toussaint’s command, which was reined in earlier this summer when he returned, drawing the praise of his manager and teammates, has once again has been spotty, a concern that’s plagued his young career.

“The last two starts weren’t that good, but today I felt like I made strides to get back to where I was,” Toussaint said.

But the Braves can’t afford patience. While Toussaint and manager Brian Snitker said Tuesday’s outing was an improvement, the righty’s rotation spot is on the line. Snitker said the team is evaluating its options. Toussaint’s next turn would come this weekend in San Francisco.

Veteran southpaw Drew Smyly, bumped to the bullpen a couple weeks ago, is an option to rejoin the rotation. Snitker has indicated youngsters Kyle Muller and Kyle Wright aren’t at the front of the conversation, though he ruled nothing out publicly.

“I’m sure we’ll talk about what to do going forward,” Snitker said. “Even today, I looked down the road we have 13 games without a day off. So we’ll figure something out.”

2. Outfielder Adam Duvall smashed a two-run homer to pull the Braves within a run in the eighth. It was Duvall’s 35th homer and gave him 101 RBIs on the season. It’s his second career 30-homer, 100-RBI campaign, joining his 2016 effort.

Duvall also has a career-best 11-game hitting streak. His previous best was a nine-game run in 2018.

3. Outfielder Jorge Soler also extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games with a double off Rockies starter Jon Gray in the first inning. Soler’s previous longest hitting streak was 10 games, which he’d achieved twice.

4. Toussaint has put the bullpen in tough spots after covering just 10 innings over his past three outings. Jacob Webb replaced him, giving up a double and walk before coaxing C.J. Cron into an inning-ending double play.

Webb was the first of four Braves relievers to pitch Tuesday. Jesse Chavez allowed one run in his inning while Richard Rodriguez pitched a scoreless frame. Sean Newcomb was a bright spot, striking out four and walking only one in two scoreless innings.

The bullpen’s work helped position the Braves to potentially steal the game, but they left two stranded in the ninth.

“It was a really good job by (the bullpen),” Snitker said. “I just felt with all the at-bats we had (remaining after the fifth inning), I’d have bet on our offense in that situation.”

5. The Braves’ magic number dropped to 15 following the Phillies’ loss. Despite their own loss, the Braves won in knocking another day off the calendar without relinquishing any of their division lead.


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