Braves lefty Banuelos likely to debut with start Thursday

They spent the first part of the season together in the Triple-A Gwinnett rotation, now Matt Wisler and Manny Banuelos are expected to follow each other in the Braves’ major league rotation, at least for the immediate future.

Banuelos, 24, is expected to be called up from Gwinnett and make his major league debut Thursday with a start against the Washington Nationals in a series-finale matchup against arguably baseball’s hottest pitcher, Max Scherzer.

Banuelos would take the rotation turn of rookie Williams Perez, who was placed on the 15-day Saturday with a bruised foot after being struck by a sharp one-hop grounder Friday. Wisler makes his third major league start Wednesday when he faces the Nationals for the second time in six days.

Banuelos, a left-hander, was a former highly-ranked Yankees prospect acquired in a Jan. 1 trade for Braves relievers David Carpenter and lefty Chasen Shreve. Banuelos is 6-2 with a 2.29 ERA and .215 opponents’ average in 15 starts at Gwinnett, with 69 strikeouts, 38 walks and two homers allowed in 82 2/3 innings.

“Very talented pitcher,” Wisler said. “He’s got a really good mix — three pitches, good change-up, good curveball. I think he’s ready. He’s thrown real well this year, every time out you’re going to get six (innings) and two runs or less. I think he’ll be good. I think he’s ready.”

Banuelos had his best game June 22 vs. Indianapolis, pitching a two-hit shutout with five strikeouts and no walks in nine innings and a season-high 101 pitches. He followed that with his shortest outing of the season Sunday at Pawtucket, where he allowed four hits, three runs and four walks in three innings.

Before that last outing, he’d posted a 1.21 ERA and .200 opponents’ average in his previous 10 starts, with 50 strikeouts, 24 walks and only one homer allowed in 59 1/3 innings.

Last year was Banuelos’ first full season coming off Tommy John surgery, and the Yankees were exceedingly cautious with him, allowing him to pitch only a few innings per start for most of the season and only 76 1/3 total innings. He’s already surpassed that innings total this season, and the Braves are expected to limit his innings to 120-130.

Because of that innings limit, there’s a chance that Banuelos could make a start or two in place of Perez, then move to the bullpen.