Another day and another Atlanta Braves prospect story surfaces. The Braves announced that they have called up their top pitching prospect Matt Wisler to make his Major League debut Friday night against the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, Jacob deGrom of the first place New York Mets. No pressure, kid, no pressure at all.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 19, 2015
Wisler, of course, was the centerpiece in the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the San Diego Padres and brought Cameron Maybin to centerfield for the Atlanta Braves and Wisler to Triple-A Gwinnett. Here’s what you need to know about Matt Wisler.
Set your expectations low. That isn’t to say Wisler can’t succeed at the big league level, that means that I am not so sure personally that he is ready to do so just yet. I watched Wisler personally earlier this season in a start against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and uncovered what I felt to be his biggest flaw, which I discussed in my assessment of Wisler: he can be extremely hittable.
His control is impecable. He hasn’t walked more than two batters in any single outing this season. His walk to strikeout ratio this season in Gwinnett is currently sitting at the best of his young career at 1.80. But when he has been hit, he has been hit hard.
Wisler has shown signs of brilliance. But he has been very inconsistent. He has two International League Pitcher of the Week Awards thus far in 2015. Those have been sandwiched around starts of high runs and big hits.
Wisler had a strong debut with the Gwinnett Braves, going 5 innings of shutout ball in a no decision days after being traded. His next three starts — the last of which was the game I saw against the RailRiders — were frightening. He allowed 25 hits and 17 runs over those three starts totaling 15 innings. Two of the outings he didn’t make it out of the fifth.
The calendar struck May and we saw the best of what Wisler promises for the future. He showcased what should be his 4-pitch arsenal (a mid-90s sinker, a deceiving offside changeup, a mid-80s slider, and a mid-70s curveball) and most importantly, he didn’t allow hits. He had two consecutive stellar starts that earned him the first of his two Pitcher of the Week honors.
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He has been increasingly better as the months have progressed. Entering May after that dreadful 3-start swing, he has since lowered his opponents batting average from .326 to .266. That is still tremendously high. Again, inconsistency is still an issue as well. After locking up his second Pitcher of the Week honors of the year, Wisler’s last start was a stinker, tossing only 3.2 innings while allowing 8 hits and 7 runs.
I like a lot of what the 22-year old right hander has to offer, but that doesn’t mean that I personally think he is ready for this big jump. He has good velocity but isn’t overpowering in the strikeout department (only 49 Ks through 65 innings) and he allows a ton of hits. That is a lot like Nathan Eovaldi, and the New York Yankees don’t know what to do with him.
The plus side is that the Mets offense isn’t the most dangerous in baseball. The Atlanta Braves need to hope that Wisler can limit the damage and get them 5 good innings tonight. Should he do that, it could be the confidence booster he needs to be the mainstay that replaces recently demoted Mike Foltynewicz in the starting rotation.