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Touki Time just hours after joining Braves

Atlanta prospect turns in 'awesome' relief effort after callup
@mlbbowman
April 14, 2019

ATLANTA -- The odd man out when the season started, Touki Toussaint may now be given the chance to occupy the rotation spot Sean Newcomb possibly lost when he quickly squandered the comfortable, early lead the Braves created in Saturday night’s 11-7 win over the Mets at SunTrust Park. Ronald

ATLANTA -- The odd man out when the season started, Touki Toussaint may now be given the chance to occupy the rotation spot Sean Newcomb possibly lost when he quickly squandered the comfortable, early lead the Braves created in Saturday night’s 11-7 win over the Mets at SunTrust Park.

Ronald Acuna Jr. recorded his fifth straight multi-hit game and Josh Donaldson highlighted his latest multi-hit performance with his first homer of the season. But as the Braves snapped a two-game skid, the most valuable contributions were provided by Toussaint, who received a standing ovation after allowing just one unearned run over the six innings completed just a few hours after being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.

“I got the chills,” Toussaint said of the ovation. “That’s something you dream of as a kid, walking off the field and just getting that standing O. It felt good.”

Toussaint retired 17 of the first 21 hitters faced and silenced the Mets after Newcomb squandered a 4-0 lead within the 25 pitches he totaled in the second inning. Jeff McNeil’s game-tying single chased the Braves’ starter, who surrendered five hits and issued two walks while allowing four runs over 1 1/3 innings.

“Tentativeness and feeling for things,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said when asked what he saw from Newcomb. “He’s got to be on the attack every time he toes that rubber. It’s got to be leaving it all out there. He’s got to figure it out some way because the stuff is too good. He’s got weapons. It’s our job to keep working with him and run him out there until he figures it out.”

This certainly wasn’t a glowing evaluation since the Braves have been saying since the end of Spring Training they wanted to see more consistent aggression from Newcomb. The left-hander posted a 6.45 ERA over his final eight starts last year. He showed some promise with a seven strong innings against the Marlins last weekend, but has allowed 15 hits and issued eight walks while recording just five strikeouts over 11 1/3 innings this year.

“I think there are times when you get caught trying to manage the game a little bit,” Newcomb said. “I think I need to do a better job of staying on the attack like Snit said. That’s when my stuff plays the best.”

Now the Braves must decide whether it’s best to give Newcomb another start or possibly send him down to Gwinnett. If they choose the latter, they could promote another reliever -- possibly Dan Winkler -- and allow Toussaint to start instead of Newcomb in Friday’s series opener in Cleveland.

“I’m sure if there was any kind of plan for anybody to do that, sure there is a benefit there,” Newcomb said. “But I think I’m pretty comfortable with what I need to do to hone my stuff.”

Toussaint was admittedly motivated when he started the season with Gwinnett while two other prospects -- Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson -- filled two of Atlanta’s rotation spots. But when given an opportunity Saturday, the former first-round pick strengthened the good impression he made while posting a 3.33 ERA in five big league starts last year.

“I’m so impressed with [Toussaint] from what I saw last year,” Snitker said. “When he came in, I said, ‘Are you ready?’ And he sure was.

Because of how quickly Snitker wanted to pull Newcomb, Toussaint said he threw “eight or nine” pitches in the bullpen before beginning his 85-pitch outing. He walked the second batter he faced and then surrendered just two more hits before fatiguing with one out in the eighth.

“When I took him out, I said, ‘I’d tell you, 'Great job,' but that would be an understatement,’” Snitker said. “That was just awesome. That was so big right now from where we’re at. That was really impressive.”

Surging Donaldson
Since going 4-for-27 with no extra-base hits through his first eight games, Donaldson has gone 8-for-23 with five doubles and a homer. The former American League Most Valuable Player Award winner’s seventh-inning solo shot went the other way with a exit velocity of 106.3 mph. Four of the seven balls he’s put in play within the past two games have had a 100+ mph exit velocity.

Player of the Week?
Since exiting last week’s series finale against the Marlins hitting .129, Acuna has gone 11-for-19 with a double, a triple and three home runs. The first of his two RBI singles Saturday expedited the demise of Mets starter Jason Vargas, who walked three of the six batters he faced before exiting with one out in the first.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.