Toussaint’s Star Fading?

Like the Max Fried article that was published Friday, it’s time to take a look at another young pitcher in the Braves organization who is struggling for his team when you glance at his ERA. The man I’m talking about is Touki Toussaint.

The 21-year-old right-hander has struggled to the tune of a 5.74 ERA and a 1-8 record for the Florida Fire Frogs in 2017. Here are his numbers from Rome in 2016:

W L ERA GS IP H ER HR BB IBB SO HBP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
4 8 3.88 24 132.1 105 57 13 71 0 128 9 1.33 7.1 0.9 4.8 8.7 1.8

 

And now here are his numbers from Florida this season:

W L ERA GS IP H ER HR BB IBB SO HBP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2 8 5.72 13 74 76 47 7 33 2 82 5 1.47 9.2 0.9 4.0 10.0 2.4

 

Here is what stands out to me immediately: He’s lowering his walk rate, elevating his strikeout rate and yet he’s allowing more hits per nine innings than he did in Rome. To me, that should cancel out and he should be posting similar numbers to his 2016 season in Rome. You know the routine. Let’s look a bit further into the numbers.

BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB
Lo-A (2016) .263 71.3% 38.3% 8.7%
Hi-A (2017) .330 62.4% 48.6% 9.2%

 

Well, there is a big reason why Toussaint is struggling. Despite getting more groundballs and only a slight increase in his home run to flyball ratio, batters have a .330 BABIP when the electric right-hander takes the mound. Also, his left on base percentage is lower than it was in 2016, which was his best mark as a professional. So Toussaint has not been nearly as bad as his standard numbers indicate, but let’s take a look at one more advanced stat.

FIP xFIP
Lo-A (2016) 4.56 4.34
Hi-A (2017) 3.86 3.54

 

According to FIP and xFIP, Toussaint has been much better than he was in Rome in 2016. He was helped out by his best strand rate as a professional. Also, his BABIP in the minor leagues has always been much lower than the average mark, which is usually around .300.

So he had been pretty lucky before this year and now his luck has caught up with him when you look at some advanced statistics. But much like Fried, there isn’t really a reason for Braves fans to worry. At the end of the day, yes, what you do on the field does matter, but you can hardly blame a guy who’s future value with the curveball grades at a 70 out of 80. That’s pretty good and he’s a prospect that could shoot up the system next year.

The encouraging thing that people should take away from Toussaint’s first 13 starts at Hi-A is the fact that he’s striking out more guys and walking less. Control has always been his big issue in the minor leagues and hopefully, those numbers are signs that he’s improving.

He’s inducing more ground balls, which has led to fewer line drives and flyballs. He’s a guy to keep an eye on, Braves fans.

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