ATLANTA -- The .215 career hitter who filled the Braves' third-base void after signing on the last day of Spring Training entered Thursday leading the National League in hitting. The guy assigned to keep left field warm until Ronald Acuna Jr. is called up ranks among the league leaders in
ATLANTA -- The .215 career hitter who filled the Braves' third-base void after signing on the last day of Spring Training entered Thursday leading the National League in hitting. The guy assigned to keep left field warm until Ronald Acuna Jr. is called up ranks among the league leaders in RBIs. And the MVP candidate was back in the lineup 24 hours after fearing he might have fractured his left wrist for a second straight season.
With all this good fortune for the Braves, maybe the gem Matt Wisler produced in Thursday night's 12-4 win over the Mets shouldn't have seemed too surprising. Called up to make an emergency start, Wisler surrendered two hits over seven innings and had plenty of support from Preston Tucker's career-best five-RBI game.
"I think it's about opportunities," Tucker said. "With a team like this, we have so much depth that I think it doesn't really matter who we have in the lineup. We expect everyone to produce and help us win games."
There is something very intriguing about this Braves team that does not resemble the clubs from the past three years of the rebuilding process. Starting catcher Tyler Flowers has been out since Opening Day and top prospect Acuna has not earned the chance to bring his tremendous talent to the Majors.
But with third baseman Ryan Flaherty consistently providing quality at-bats and Tucker matching Bryce Harper's NL-leading RBI total (18), the Braves still find themselves in good shape, just two games behind the National League East-leading Mets.
"Everybody has taken advantage of the situation," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Tucker was hot all spring, and he's carried into the season. Flaherty has just been a really great addition. Then you see 'Wis' come in and do this."
Wisler received a call around midnight that informed him he would be coming up from Triple-A Gwinnett to make this start in place of Anibal Sanchez, who strained his right hamstring while running sprints on Wednesday. Unfazed by the sudden assignment, Wisler was perfect through the first three innings, then retired 11 of the 12 hitters he faced after Asdrubal Cabrera singled with two outs in the fourth.
"That was the best I've seen Wisler," Snitker said. "He was just on the attack with all of his pitches. He had a really good breaking ball and he was locating his fastball. That was as aggressive as I've ever seen him."
Wisler found a good feel for his slider as he recorded eight strikeouts, with Todd Frazier's fifth-inning leadoff homer as the only damage incurred over seven innings. The former highly touted prospect, who faded into relative obscurity as he made just one Major League start last year, stands as the only Braves pitcher to complete at least seven innings this year.
"Obviously, I know my track record," Wisler said. "I know the struggles I've had at times and the success I've had at times. For me this year, every time I take the mound I've got to prove something."
Kurt Suzuki, who has capably handled the catching position since Flowers strained his left oblique on Opening Day, highlighted the first inning with a two-run homer. Tucker increased his RBI total to 18 with a two-run double in the third and a three-run double in a four-run seventh.
Once tests showed his left wrist was not fractured by the Hoby Milner pitch that hit him during Wednesday's win over the Phillies, Freddie Freeman made an immediate return to the lineup. He drilled a sacrifice fly in the first inning and capped a two-hit night with a single in the seventh.
Wisler was given an early cushion as the Braves tallied three runs against Matt Harvey in both the first and third innings. Freeman fittingly drove in the game's first run with a sacrifice fly. Approximately 21 hours earlier, he had walked off the field somewhat concerned about the possibility a pitch had fractured his left wrist for the second straight year.
It's just been that kind of year for the Braves, who have seen their enhanced depth influence the good fortune thus far.
"I've tried to take advantage of the situation I've been put in," Tucker said. "I think a lot of these guys have too. We're in a good spot now and we're winning games and having fun."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Opportunity knocks: Tucker has consistently heard about how he will likely lose his spot in the starting lineup once Acuna is called up. But the 27-year-old outfielder has remained focused and intent on taking advantage of the chance to prove he can be a legit offensive threat at the big league level. He capped the third with a two-run double and then cleared the bases with the three-run double he hit off Jerry Blevins in the seventh.
Extra fuel: Ozzie Albies recorded his MLB-high 15th extra-base hit when he doubled to begin the third inning. Albies scored when Nick Markakis delivered a RBI single ahead of consecutive doubles by Suzuki and Tucker against Harvey.
• Suzuki has homered in three of this season's first 41 at-bats (13.7 AB/HR) and 18 times in 202 at-bats (11.2 AB/HR) dating back to July 1. He had 16 homers over 1,230 at-bats from 2014-16.
• Chipper Jones (17 in 1998, 16 in 2007), Dale Murphy (17 in 1985), Justin Upton (17 in 2013) and Freeman (16 in 2017) stand as the only Braves to record more extra-base hits than Albies by the end of April. The Braves have 10 games remaining this month.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Activated from the disabled list on Wednesday, Johan Camargo entered in the eighth inning and immediately showed why he has the potential to be an elite defender. Playing third base, Camargo sprinted to his right and dived to snare a Jose Reyes foul ball just before it hit the dirt in front of the Mets' dugout.
Camargo's gem accounted for the only out recorded by Lucas Sims, who surrendered two hits, including Adrian Gonzalez's solo homer, and issued three walks during the Mets' three-run eighth.
"The way that inning was unraveling in the eighth, Camargo's play was huge just to get an out," Snitker said.
HE SAID IT
"I've been feeling good. My last outing [for Gwinnett] was probably the best I've felt in two years. I put a lot into this offseason, and it's starting to pay off a little bit. There's obviously still a long way to go. I think I can still get better." -- Wisler
Coming off two encouraging starts on the road, Sean Newcomb will look to extend his success Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET, when the Braves and Mets resume a four-game series at SunTrust Park. Newcomb struggled in his first home start this season, but the left-hander allowed just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings on the recent road trip. Hard-throwing righty Noah Syndergaard makes the start for New York.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. Listen to his podcast.