The Atlanta Braves are headed into Spring Training with a lot of pitchers competing for a spot in the starting rotation, including Matt Wisler.
Matt Wisler had an up-and-down season as a Brave after his initial debut in 2015 and will be coming into camp looking to earn a spot in the Braves’ rotation. Wisler took some time to answer a few questions we had for him. Here is the interview as well as our outlook for Wisler in 2017.
Through the minor leagues and throughout your time as a Brave, is there one veteran pitcher or player you have played with in particular who has helped you adjust to the Major Leagues?
Wisler: “I think there has been a couple different players who have helped me out over time with the Braves. Julio Teheran has been good for me. I know he isn’t your prototypical veteran because (he) only has like 3 more years of service time then me, but he has gone through some of the same things that I am going through so that makes it easier to talk about certain things because I know that he has gone through it recently himself.”
“Other guys such has Frenchy, or A.J. Pierzynski have just been there to help with the mental side as well, that it takes to be a major league pitcher. Just have to learn to keep fighting and not lose confidence.”
What has been your favorite moment as a Brave thus far, and the toughest hitter you have faced?
Wisler: “My favorite moment still will have to be my debut. I think that will be one of my best memories as a player. Just how everything came together during that game was something I will never forget. Adrain Gonzalez so far, or the Cubs lineup would be the toughest hitters I have faced.”
Your 2016 season as a Brave was an up-and-down one that had some really good moments and some very tough ones as a pitcher. Looking back and headed into 2017, are there clear changes to be made or just better execution?
Wisler: “There are gonna be some minor physical adjustments yes, but a lot of them have to do with my mental side of the game. I just have to always remain confident on the mound and not overthink things even when aren’t going my way. I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking too much on the mound and that in turn makes me way less effective pitching. I tend to leave a lot up in the zone and hang my slider which means I give up a lot of runs.”
Last season you added the change-up to your arsenal, any new pitches for us this season and is the change-up still a pitch you are working with or a finished product?
Wisler: ” No new pitches this year, just need to keep working on the ones that I have and maybe add to how I use a certain pitch. Change up will need to (be) most improved on last year. Consistency of my pitches is key. “
Who were some of your favorite players growing up?
Wisler: “I always enjoyed watching Roy Halladay pitch when he did. The way he went about locating pitches in and out was always something admired. Indians was my favorite team growing up so I enjoyed watching those players as well.”
Headed into Spring Training with spots up for grabs but not guaranteed, does it give you in edge in preparation or does it make it tougher to prepare?
Wisler: “I’m just trying to come into camp as prepared as possible this year and do whatever I can to make my way onto the Opening Day roster again. Just try to work on whatever I need to, to be ready for the season to start.”
That outlook is the exact attitude that will help give Wisler an edge heading into Spring Training, where there will be at least one spot up for grabs. Though Mike Foltnewicz is expected to have an advantage due to his velocity. While Wisler may not have the velocity, he does have the advantage of showing over the past two years that he does know how to truly pitch and not just throw the ball. With the change-up given another year to develop, Wisler should take a step forward this season.
Whether or not he makes the rotation straight out of spring training, Wisler should spend a significant time with the Major League team this season and be given the opportunity to prove that he belongs in the Braves’ rotation long-term. No questioning, the Braves have a lot of young talented pitching including Matt Wisler, that should give Braves’ fans a lot to look forward to in 2017.