Wisler closes spring season in solid fashion

Braves righty goes 5-plus innings, says it's 'the best I've thrown all spring'

Wisler closes spring season in solid fashion

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Braves starter Matt Wisler wrapped up his solid Grapefruit League season in workmanlike fashion in Tuesday's 10-inning, 4-4 tie with the Orioles, allowing three runs on three hits -- including solo home runs by Manny Machado and Matt Wieters -- in five-plus innings against Baltimore's projected Opening Day lineup.

After struggling with his control in the first two innings, Wisler settled down nicely, throwing 30 of his final 46 pitches for strikes. At one point, he retired seven consecutive Orioles, recording each of his four strikeouts (against three walks) during that stretch.

The 23-year-old right-hander threw 13 of 21 first-pitch strikes, and he found the zone on 47 of 79 pitches overall.

"The fourth and fifth inning was probably the best I've thrown all spring, so to have that kind of feel right now, I'm happy with that," said Wisler, who pitched to a 3.95 ERA in 13 2/3 innings across four Spring Training starts.

Wisler has been assigned the No. 3 spot in the Braves' starting rotation -- behind Opening Day starter Julio Teheran and former 15-game winner Bud Norris -- meaning he will take the ball on April 8, when the Cardinals visit Atlanta for the first of a three-game weekend series.

"I feel ready to go," said Wisler, who went 8-8 as a rookie last season with a 4.71 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts) after being acquired just before the start of the regular season in the deal that sent Melvin Upton Jr. and Craig Kimbrel to the Padres. "I'm excited for this year. I've put in a lot of work this offseason and it feels good right now, so I'll just keep working day to day and try to get a better feel for being more aggressive every time I pitch, with every pitch, and see what happens.

Wisler's lone relief appearance last year -- two scoreless innings against the Nationals in September -- was possibly the most important outing of his season, as he refused to dwell on the struggles (9.49 ERA in seven previous starts) that led to his temporary departure from the rotation.

Instead, Wisler performed impressively in his next five starts, going 3-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 34 2/3 innings with 24 strikeouts and nine walks.

"Ever since that [relief appearance], he's been a different guy," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's a guy who has gotten better every start and he's carried it on during this Spring Training."

Worth noting
Hector Olivera, who went 1-for-2 with a single and a walk to bring his Grapefruit League average to .414, has now hit safely in 17 of 20 games this spring.

Jeff Francoeur, who was informed Tuesday morning that he had made the Braves' Opening Day roster, singled in three trips to the plate.

• Southpaw Kyle Kinman impressed Gonzalez with his one inning of scoreless relief, particularly in retiring Chris Davis on a tapper in front of the plate and Pedro Alvarez on a 6-3 double play.

"He was really good, especially getting those two left-handers. I mean, those are Major League left-handers, and he got them out," said Gonzalez.

Michael Kolligian is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.