The Braves are set for another matchup with the Cincinnati Reds, with this particular game carrying heightened significance for Atlanta. Through all the trials and tribulations that have made up the 2021 season, the Braves have somehow remained relevant in the National League playoff picture. Entering play tonight, Atlanta sits just one game behind the Phillies for the lead in the NL East. While plenty of works remains, reaching this point feels significant for the Braves given the hurdles that have been cleared in its pursuit.
Taking the mound for Atlanta will be right-hander Touki Toussaint, who has been up-and-down since being recalled from Gwinnett. His most recent start against the Cardinals was mildly encouraging, in that Toussaint limited St. Louis to three runs (two earned) over 52⁄3 innings, but he also allowed a long home run to the backup catcher and struck out only three batters. The pure stuff is always impressive, but Toussaint needs solid command to find success. The Reds will pose a challenge, but every Touki Toussaint feels like a battle with himself more than a battle with the opposition. The best version of Toussaint can be dominant against any lineup, but will we see that version tonight?
Touki enters this start with a 1-2 record and 4.43 ERA on the season. He is striking out just over a batter per nine innings and his WHIP sits at 1.12. Barrel rates against Toussaint are just over 8%, while average exit velocity is nearly 95 MPH. Both have occurred in very small samples, but those numbers seem odd when stacked side-by-side. Touki will heavily feature a sinker, complemented by a curveball and splitter. Expected stats against the sinker seem to indicate some good luck for Toussaint thus far, but again, small sample.
The Braves will face off against Cincinnati left-hander Wade Miley, who has been among the most pleasant surprises in the National League this season. Miley has posted a 9-4 record with a 2.75 ERA, along with his first career no-hitter back in May. The soft-tossing veteran has become a legitimate candidate to finish in the top-ten among Cy Young vote-getters this winter and has handsomely rewarded the Reds for their faith in his abilities. His greatest strength this season has been avoiding hard contact, as his average exit velocity ranks in the 94th percentile. The Braves are well-equipped to handle left-handed pitching, but Miley has been a tough assignment against everyone in 2021.
The Braves have battled all season for an opportunity to play meaningful baseball down the stretch. That time has arrived and the club sits within striking distance of the rival Phillies. Touki Toussaint has all the ability needed to shut down an opposing lineup, and he can build upon the momentum he found in his last start. By the end of tonight’s slate of games, the Braves could very well have a share of the division lead. It feels impossible given their luck this season, but here we are. Let’s enjoy it.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, August 11, 7:20 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network