One bright spot in another bad day for the Braves Sunday was the performance of rookie Matt Wisler in his first relief appearance since he had one in Single-A ball in 2012.
He worked two scoreless innings with one walk, one hit batter and two strikeouts in an 8-4 loss to the Nationals, the 12th consecutive defeat for the Braves.
Wisler is 0-5 with a 9.49 ERA in seven starts since the end of July, and the Braves had him pitch out of the bullpen in an effort to help him restore some confidence.
“Hopefully it’ll help him continue to grow,” veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “Two scoreless is nice; we needed it. But if he’s going to start we need him to pitch the way he pitched today, aggressive, pound the strike zone from the first inning through the ninth inning, or whatever (innings) he pitches.”
Wisler had only two relief appearances among his 91 games pitched in five minor league appearances, but count Pierzysnki among those who liked the move Sunday.
“Do whatever you’ve got got to do to get these (young) guys confident and get back to where they need to get to,” he said. “That’s the bottom line, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’ll try anything we can.”
In his Thursday start against the Nationals, Wisler gave up five hits, seven runs and three walks in just 1 2/3 innings. Manger Fredi Gonzlalez said he didn’t know yet whether the Braves would have Wisler pitch more in relief for now or return to the rotation.
“I felt good,” Wisler said. “That’s the reason they put me in, to kind of help my mentality. I’ve been struggling so much lately they just put me down there, clear my head out, let me come in the game and be aggressive. I finally got back to that today….
“(As a reliever) you warm up, you stop thinking when you come in the game, you know you’ve just got to be aggressive and know you can get those guys out. It helped my mindset. I haven’t had a scoreless day in, I don’t know, two months. It was nice to go out there and have a little bit of success. Hopefully build on that. I have a long way to go still, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
If only the Braves could say the same about their team as a whole.
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