Wisler struggles second time through order

Braves right-hander fell apart by allowing five-run fourth inning vs. Reds

Wisler struggles second time through order

CINCINNATI -- Things seemed to be looking up for Braves starter Matt Wisler in his start against the Reds on Monday.

Through the first three innings, Wisler faced the minimum, allowing two hits but inducing two double plays while striking out two. But like it has so often for the 23-year-old righty recently, the wheels fell off when the Reds came to bat a second time in the fourth inning. Five runs later, Wisler was staring at a four-run deficit, which led to an 8-2 Braves loss. He allowed five earned runs and eight hits over his five innings.

"I don't know, just wasn't as aggressive, I don't think," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "A couple balls ran back over the plate. The home run to [Reds' first baseman Joey] Votto, it was just he hung a breaking ball. Just kind of lost a little of the aggression or conviction in his pitches, and it hurt him."

Through the end of May, Wisler posted a 3.16 ERA in 10 starts, eight of which were quality starts. In eight starts since then, Wisler has a 7.06 ERA over 43 1/3 innings and has allowed 12 home runs. At least some of Wisler's woes on Monday can be attributed to his pitch location -- of the three homers, two came on pitches over the middle in the upper third of the strike zone.

"The ball started to get up in the fourth inning," Wisler said. "I came out the first couple innings, kept the ball down, even if I was missing in the middle they were usually down, they weren't doing too much with it, but once the ball got up, they started teeing off on me."

Wisler's struggles the second time aren't new to him this season, though. The first time through the order, opponents are hitting .236 against him with three homers. The second time through the order, opponents are hitting .309 with eight homers.

Wisler was no longer fooling the Reds lineup after the first three innings. Wisler had 10 swings and misses on 52 pitches thrown in the fourth and fifth innings. On 18 balls put in play over those two innings, the Reds hit .444 against Wisler, including a .500 average against his slider and a .417 average against fastballs.

Snitker attributed Wisler's second-time struggles to a lack of aggression.

"Just the aggression and staying after it and keep pitching," Snitker said. "Just the confidence in himself and getting it done. It's things we can talk to him about and continue to talk to him about and work on. Just the game innings and experience is going to be the best thing for him."

"I can't keep having outings like this," Wisler said. "It's frustrating. I've got to go out there and put a good outing together."

Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.