The Braves announced on Thursday afternoon that 24-year-old RHP Matt Wisler was moving to the bullpen in Gwinnett. The move comes after nearly three years of Wisler rotating back and forth between Gwinnett’s rotation to Atlanta’s rotation. Ultimately Wisler was unable to replicate his AAA success (3.90 ERA; 3.55 FIP) at the big league level (5.12 ERA; 4.93 FIP). The biggest issue for Wisler has been the lack of an effective third pitch to attack left-handed hitters, and the numbers speak for themselves:
Wisler vs LH: .376 OBP; 5.11 K/9; 5.05 BB/9
Wisler vs RH: .287 OBP; 7.31 K/9; 1.41 BB/9
The move to the bullpen will allow Wisler to focus on being primarily a two-pitch pitcher. His fastball, which has averaged 93.0 MPH over his MLB career, could see a spike in velocity that allows him to pitch more along the lines of 95-96 MPH in one-inning stints. On top of that, a bump in velocity could make his already effective slider even more of a weapon. According to Fangraphs, Wisler’s pitch value of his slider graded out 26th in all of MLB in 2016 among pitchers that threw at least 150 innings. That was ahead of guys like Zack Greinke and Marcus Stroman, who are both known for their excellent slider.
Unfortunately not all of the Braves highly regarded pitching prospects will live up to they hype. In fact many may never amount to much of anything at the big league level. With that being said, if the Braves can utilize Wisler as a reliever primarily working against right-handed hitters, his mid-90’s fastball and strong slider could make him a very effective MLB reliever.