Wisler logs firsts at plate while stifling Nats
Braves rookie adds to four-run fourth with first MLB hit, RBI; allows one hit over 5 1/3
ATLANTA -- Through the first three starts of his career, Braves right-hander Matt Wisler has displayed his tremendous potential, experienced some inevitable growing pains and proven that it is not always wise to intentionally walk a batter to bring him to the plate.
Along with pitching effectively into the sixth inning of Wednesday night's 4-1 win over the Nationals at Turner Field, Wisler also notched his first career hit -- an RBI single off Doug Fister -- immediately after Eury Perez was intentionally walked with two outs during a four-run fourth inning.
"That's not a big deal," Wisler said when playfully asked about the intentional walk. "My track record is not that great. Hopefully I'll earn a little more respect as we go."
Wisler has certainly earned respect based on what he has done through these first couple weeks of his career. After completing an efficient eight innings during his June 19 Major League debut against the Mets, he completed just four innings last week against the Nationals.
But instead of being deterred by that outing, the 22-year-old hurler bounced back and showed why he became Atlanta's top pitching prospect immediately after he was acquired in the April 5 trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to San Diego.
Though he issued five walks during Wednesday night's victory, Wisler still impressed as he notched six strikeouts and limited the Nationals to just one hit over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. The outing netted him his second career victory and greater respect from his veteran teammates.
"Tonight, he had a different look in his eyes," Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "It was good to see. Hopefully he'll learn from this and the next time out he'll have the same fire and attitude when he takes the mound."
After waiting through a 2-hour, 9-minute rain delay, Wisler labored through a 27-pitch first inning that included two walks and three strikeouts. But in the process of completing the opening frame, he showed how effective his slider can be. The slider concluded four of his six strikeouts, including one of the looking variety that retired Bryce Harper in the fourth inning.
"That's the sharpest my slider has been in quite a while," Wisler said. "I was just getting through it a little better."
After the Nationals put runners at the corners with one out in the third inning, Wisler used a 93-mph power sinker to escape the threat with a Yunel Escobar double-play groundout.
"He was aggressive, and he was in the strike zone," Pierzynski said. "He threw all his pitches for strikes. Last time out, he had trouble throwing his offspeed stuff for strikes. Tonight, he was really doing that. He was in control from the first pitch. Any time you give up no runs and one hit, it's a good outing."
The outing was obviously enriched by the line-drive single Wisler sent to right field to account for the last of the four runs tallied in the fourth inning. He had batted .206 in 34 career Minor League at-bats and gone hitless through his first four plate appearances at the Major League level.
"That was definitely awesome," Wisler said. "Obviously we get the intentional walk to get to me, and then to come up and get that hit and give myself a run was big."