WASHINGTON -- Though the Braves were thrilled to watch Matt Wisler cruise through his Major League debut with relative ease last week, they had promoted him from the Minor League level with the understanding that he was destined to encounter the frustration he felt while lasting just four innings in Thursday's 7-0 loss to the Nationals.
"It's going to be a learning curve and I still have a long way to go," said Wisler, who is ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Braves' No. 2 prospect. "Obviously I'm 22 and I still have a lot to learn. I've just got to watch this and learn from it. I'll think about it a little bit tonight, move on and get better."
With one eye on the current season and two eyes on the future, the Braves are in a position where they can benefit from allowing Wisler to gain the same kind of valuable experience the likes of Tom Glavine and John Smoltz did while taking their lumps during their early Major League days. Mike Foltynewicz was positioned to get the same benefit until he walked off the field during a side session at Fenway Park last week and gave the club reason to send him a wake-up call by demoting him to Triple-A Gwinnett.
Wisler certainly endured some growing pains as he allowed the Nationals six runs (four earned) on nine hits. His four-inning outing was marred by a couple errors that led to an unearned run in both the first and second innings. But with his slider not nearly as effective as it had been as he tossed eight strong innings against the Mets in last week's debut, he allowed four extra-base hits, including Ian Desmond's two-run homer in the third inning, before he notched his ninth out.
"When you've got a young kid on the mound, you've got to give him every opportunity to get through clean innings, where he gets that experience of covering up mistakes and errors," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Right now, he's not there. The other night in his first start, we played really good defense and helped him. But we didn't do that today."
Wisler's second career appearance started inauspiciously as Denard Span produced a leadoff single and advanced to second base when Nick Markakis bobbled the ball. The miscue ended Markakis' Major League record consecutive errorless games streak as an outfielder at 398 games. More importantly, it helped Span move into position to score on Yunel Escobar's groundout.
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos notched the first of the two doubles recorded in the second inning and scored when third baseman Kelly Johnson's errant throw to first base entered the home dugout. Johnson's miscue might have added some pressure, but as Wisler allowed hits to four of the first six batters he faced in the error-free third inning, he provided the reminder that he's still in that often-painful initiation stage young hurlers must endure.
"I just wasn't executing," Wisler said. "It comes down to me at the end of the day, needing to execute the pitch to get out of the inning. Today, I didn't do it as well as I should have."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.