Matt Wisler: Does He Take Leap Forward in 2016?


Matt Wisler had an up and down rookie year with the Atlanta Braves as a 22-year-old. Will he take a leap forward in the 2016 rotation as a 23-year-old?

Matt Wisler came to Atlanta from San Diego immediately before the start of the 2015 MLB season. Wisler was the primary piece coming to the Atlanta Braves in the Craig Kimbrel deal with the San Diego Padres on Easter Sunday.

As a 22-year-old rookie, Matt Wisler finished his 2015 MLB campaign with an 8-8 record, a 4.71 ERA, a 1.459 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 80 in 109.0 innings pitched. Wisler’s rookie year certainly had its ups and downs. He thrived in July, going 4-0 in 5 starts, with a 3.30 ERA, a 1.367 WHIP in 30.0 innings pitched. His August was the nadir of his 2015 rookie season, going 0-4 in 6 starts, with a 7.85 ERA, a 1.919 WHIP in 28.2 innings pitched.

-= See Also: Adonis Garcia: Atlanta Braves Starting 3B in 2016? =- projects Matt Wisler to 8-7 with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.336 WHIP in 113.0 innings pitched. For some reason, the site thinks he will get 2 saves as well, but for what it’s worth, Matt Wisler is a starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. Unless he regresses tremendously with the Atlanta Braves in his second big league season, he will find himself in the middle of the Atlanta rotation.

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For Atlanta to have anything but a bottom-feeder type of season in 2016, some of the pitching prospects that President of Baseball Operations John Hart and General Manager John Coppolella traded for will need to start to click in the final year of Braves baseball at Turner Field. If 2017 is the year that the Atlanta Braves wish to again be competitive, the pitching staff will have to grow exponentially in 2016.

Last season, we did see Julio Teheran and Shelby Miller emerge as front-line starters for our organization. Are they top of the rotation pieces on contending teams? No, but both are good enough to make a three-man playoff rotation on a championship caliber team, so that’s a start.

Like Miller and Teheran, Matt Wisler was a blue chip pitching prospect before debuting in 2015 with the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta valued Wisler’s versatile repertoire and potential to become a front-line starter. While he has the look of a future 2nd or 3rd man in a good rotation type of pitcher, he did struggle with the feel of the strike zone in 2015. He has the stuff, but the control and command he didn’t showcase ultimately did him in his rookie year.

However for the Atlanta Braves to effectively transition to SunTrust Park in these trying times, Matt Wisler will have to elevate his play in his sophomore season with the ball club in 2016 and I believe that he can do that.

Outside of his lousy August, Wisler was 8-4 on the year and showed promise in most of his starts. I believe that the entire Atlanta Braves’ team abysmal six-week post-All-Star game swoon effected the morale of many of the young pitchers. The pressure of having to succeed as a young starter with an offense that doesn’t hit and a bullpen that leaks like a sieve in perpetuity can rattle even the brightest of prospects’ confidence.

Next: Atlanta Braves Looking to Revamp Bullpen This Offseason

I sense that a full year in the Atlanta Braves organization and most importantly, a strong spring training program will allow Matt Wisler to join Julio Teheran and Shelby Miller atop the 2016 Atlanta Braves rotation. Wisler has the stuff and the competitiveness to succeed at the Major League level. It’s up to Pitching Coach Roger McDowell to integrate better tact in Wisler’s approach to starts.

Now that both Wisler and the Braves know what works and what doesn’t for him at the Major League level, the team can build a game plan for his starts that better cater to his strengths and limit his weaknesses here in Year Two. Go Braves!