Wisler poised, professional in debut
ATLANTA -- When Matt Wisler learned on April 5 that Jace Peterson had made Atlanta's Opening Day roster, he sent his former roommate a congratulatory message. Approximately an hour later, after learning that he had been included in the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to San Diego, Wisler sent Peterson another message that said, simply, "We might be teammates this year."
The former Padres products certainly made the most of their opportunity to play together on the big stage. Peterson's two-run double in the eighth inning provided Wisler all the support he needed to celebrate the sparkling Major League debut he produced while leading the Braves to Friday night's 2-1 win over the Mets at Turner Field.
"We talked when I got here; he promised me he'd get me a couple runs today," Wisler said. "He pretty much helped me calm down today. He said, 'Don't worry about it, it's just another game, and I'm behind you, just like last year.'"
Throughout a significant portion of last year, Peterson and Wisler roomed together while playing for Triple-A El Paso. Now they stand as just two of the multiple pieces the Braves were thrilled to gain through the two significant trades made with the Padres over the past six months.
Given their prior relationship, Peterson might have been one of the few who were not shocked to see the poise and professionalism Wisler exuded as he needed just 88 pitches to limit the Mets to one run over eight innings. Neither the surroundings nor the matchup against a very efficient Jacob deGrom deterred Wisler as he moved toward his first Major League win.
"I honestly felt more calm than I probably should have out there," Wisler said. "I kept telling myself, 'Don't get too comfortable, because it's going to burn you.'"
Wisler, ranked by MLB.com as the Braves' No. 2 prospect, was actually so nervous that he arrived at Turner Field at around 12:15 p.m. ET on Friday. Over the next seven hours leading up to the first pitch, he evaluated scouting reports, went through his normal pregame ritual and met his teammates, many of whom had never seen him, because the Braves acquired him after the conclusion of Spring Training.
By the time Wisler opened his career by striking out Curtis Granderson, the nerves had dissipated.
"I didn't know anything about him, other than we had traded for him," veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He had multiple weapons and threw a lot of strikes. I know he was nervous when I was talking to him before the game. But at no point did he ever look out of place or intimidated by the moment."
Pierzynski and the Braves were impressed with the command Wisler displayed while consistently mixing speeds and hitting his spots with his fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. He threw 63 of his 88 pitches for strikes and retired seven of the final eight batters he faced after allowing Michael Cuddyer's RBI single in the sixth inning.
"When he is in that mode and attacking the zone and throwing all of his pitches for strikes, he's really good," Peterson said. "It was a good pace of the game, and I expect that a lot out of him."