LOS ANGELES -- Though he knew he had to win to keep his job, former Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez often favored long-term developmental benefits when he weighed when he should remove one of his young starting pitchers from a game.Since replacing Gonzalez on May 17, Brian Snitker has shown a
LOS ANGELES -- Though he knew he had to win to keep his job, former Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez often favored long-term developmental benefits when he weighed when he should remove one of his young starting pitchers from a game.
Since replacing Gonzalez on May 17, Brian Snitker has shown a tendency to have a quicker hook. But as Matt Wisler labored through his worst start of the season in Sunday afternoon's 12-6 loss to the Dodgers, the current Braves manager recognized the need to preserve his bullpen and allow his promising young hurler to potentially benefit from a painful learning experience.
"The aggression wasn't there, and he was missing his mark," Snitker said. "He had to battle through that thing. He's been pitching pretty well. Things didn't go his way, and he probably learned a lot today in that you've got to go out there without maybe the best stuff and learn how to survive."
This certainly wasn't the same Wisler the Braves have seen throughout this season. Making his 30th career start, the righty allowed a career-high eight earned runs and nine hits over just four innings. The three home runs he surrendered equaled the total he allowed while producing a 2.80 ERA over his past eight starts.
"I've got to go out there and earn it," Wisler said. "They can't just take me out every game in that situation. When I'm getting beat that bad, I've got to learn how to fight and keep us in the game."
As the Braves have gone 7-12 under his watch, Snitker has attempted to maintain that balance between winning as much as possible and enriching the club's future by making sure the young players gain proper development. He pushed Wisler longer than he might a couple of years from now, and he made sure Mallex Smith understood the mental mistake he made when he got picked off first base with the Dodgers leading 9-2 in the seventh inning.
Smith's immediate removal from the game was not simply a disciplinary decision. It had more to do with the fact that Ender Inciarte was at the plate at the time as a pinch-hitter. Had Inciarte not replaced Smith during the next half-inning, the Braves would have burned one of their four bench players.
"You can't get picked off there," Snitker said. "We're down, and outs are a precious commodity at that time. You've got to be a little more cautious than that."
Wisler walked away from this outing recognizing the need to remain focused and ignore concerns like the one that developed as he exited the bullpen on Sunday. He didn't have a good pregame session and was concerned about the lack of feel he had for his secondary pitches. Wisler will attempt to bounce back from this outing much the same way he did last year, when an ugly August temporarily cost him a rotation spot. He responded to that adversity by producing a 2.91 ERA over a 15-start span prior to Sunday.
"[Wisler] is a guy who can struggle a little bit and still go out there and be effective," Braves outfielder Nick Markakis said. "You've got to learn, and there's no better way to learn than to be in live situations like that. You're going to be ahead sometimes and you're going to be behind sometimes. You've got to continue to take the ball and be ready to roll."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.