Michael Wacha, signed by the New York Mets in the offseason to deepen their rotation, will be searching for his first career win against the Braves on Saturday when the National League East rivals resume their series in Atlanta.
Wacha will try to help the Mets stop a three-game losing streak. NewYork blew a six-run lead on Friday and lost 11-10 when the Braves scored five times in the eighth inning. Atlanta has won three straight and has beaten the Mets in three of four meetings.
Wacha (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will be opposed by Atlanta's Touki Toussaint (0-0, 20.25), who will make his first start of the season.
In six career appearances (four starts) against the Braves, Wacha is 0-3 with a 3.65 ERA. He hasn't pitched poorly, evidenced by his last start against Atlanta on May 15, 2019, when he gave up only two runs, one earned, in five innings and was saddled with the loss. Wacha is 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA against the Braves in two starts in Atlanta.
Wacha made his debut for the Mets at Fenway Park on Monday in a 7-4 win over the Boston Red Sox. Wacha threw five innings and allowed one run on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
"I feel like I had pretty good command of the fastball, cutter and changeup," Wacha said. "Me and (catcher Wilson Ramos) got in a nice little groove there. We were attacking the zone, making pitches."
The veteran appeared in 29 games and started 24 for St. Louis last season, finishing 6-7 with a 4.76 ERA. However, he posted a 2.89 ERA over his final nine starts and appears ready to build on that success.
Toussaint's opportunity to step into the Atlanta rotation was created by the poor performance of Mike Foltynewicz, who was designated for assignment after his first start and later re-signed and sent to the alternate camp. Foltynewicz, a right-hander who was an All-Star in 2018, was tasked with rebuilding his strength and rediscovering his fading velocity.
Toussaint has appeared in only one game this season and was roughed up for six runs in 2 2/3 innings in relief of Foltynewicz on Monday against Tampa Bay. The Braves hope to get 65-75 pitches from Toussaint, who arrived late to summer camp after testing positive for COVID-19.
"It depends on how he gets there," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "If they are stressful innings, that would shorten that. You take each inning individually. We feel good because got him around 60 last time, so 75 would be the next progression."
Toussaint split last season between Atlanta and Triple-A Gwinnett, going 4-0 with a 5.62 ERA in 24 games with the Braves. He had one start and allowed seven earned runs in 1 1/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians.
Toussaint has made four career appearances, one start, against the Mets. He produced a 1-0 record with a 3.68 ERA in 14 2/3 innings over those outings. He pitched five innings in a start against the Mets in 2018 and allowed two runs on three hits and five walks with six strikeouts.
--Field Level Media