Wisler showing Braves glimpse of bright future

Young right-hander throws eight innings for second straight start

May 11th, 2016

ATLANTA -- Though the Braves have wallowed in the near-daily misery created by their historically bad start, they have been able to take solace in the fact that their young starting rotation -- led by Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair and Mike Foltynewicz -- has started to take shape.

While Blair has made just three starts and Foltynewicz has shown both the highs and lows of his potential in his first two starts of the season, Wisler has spent this season's first six weeks consistently showing that he has the potential to be a frontline starter. The 23-year-old right-hander made a couple of costly mistakes in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Phillies, but as he completed eight innings for the second straight start, he proved how far he has come since last season.

"He's been awesome all year," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "He went eight strong innings and made one mistake."

Wisler's most noticeable error came on the first pitch of the eighth inning and his 95th of the game -- a hanging slider that Maikel Franco drilled over the left-field wall for what proved to be a decisive home run. The Braves' hurler also would have liked to have thrown a better slider than the one Cesar Hernandez laced for a two-out RBI single in the fifth inning.

But for the most part, Wisler spent the entirety of this 104-pitch effort proving just how far he has come since his rookie struggles relegated him to a brief stint in the bullpen last September. In the 11 starts he has made since making his lone relief appearance, he has posted a 2.84 ERA.

"He's getting there, and he's getting there really quickly," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It's nice to watch guys like this develop and keep getting better."

While surrendering a season-high eight hits to the Phillies, Wisler was nowhere near as efficient as he was last week, when he limited the Mets to one hit over eight scoreless innings. But he stranded a pair of runners after Chase d'Arnaud's error elongated the seventh inning, earning the chance to return to the mound to begin the eighth inning.

Unfortunately, Wisler's first pitch of the eighth inning sunk the 7-24 Braves, who now are the first team since the 2003 Tigers (who started 6-25) to lose at least 24 of their first 31 games. But the young right-hander appreciated the fact he was given this opportunity.

"They trust me to go out there, so I think that shows some of the confidence they have in me this year," Wisler said.

Wisler has allowed three earned runs or less in four of his past five starts, and though his career thus far has consisted of just 25 starts, he has accounted for four of the 10 instances in which a Braves pitcher has completed at least eight innings since the start of the 2015 season.

"This was something to build on," Braves right fielder Nick Markakis said. "He's been solid for us all year, and he threw another good one."