Wisler playing in Dominican League with something to prove

Righty looking to find consistency, make Braves' rotation next year

Wisler playing in Dominican League with something to prove

ATLANTA -- Instead of walking away from this past season with the intention to simply dwell on what transpired, Matt Wisler has opted to spend the next few weeks attempting to enhance his development by pitching in the Dominican Winter League.

Wisler is scheduled to make his second start for Licey this weekend. The Braves right-hander plans to complete a handful of four-to-five inning stints to push this year's workload past the 200-inning mark. He totaled 183 1/3 innings while pitching for Atlanta and Triple-A Gwinnett this year.

Wisler's stint in the Dominican League began auspiciously on Saturday as he allowed two hits over four scoreless innings against a Cibao lineup that included Blue Jays top prospect Richard Urena. His next start will come against an Aguilas lineup that could include Mariners prospect Boog Powell and former Braves prospect Zoilo Almonte.

As the Braves have talked about adding at least two starting pitchers this winter, Wisler has come to understand there is no guarantee he will begin next season in Atlanta's rotation.

"Going forward, if I get the chance to be up here, then I've really got to prove I can be consistent, and one or two bad starts will not affect me for a month," Wisler said after allowing the Tigers five earned runs in just 4 2/3 innings on Sept. 30.

Wisler finished the 2015 season strong -- posting a 2.34 ERA over his final five starts -- and it appeared he was on the same track as he produced a 3.21 ERA through this year's first 10 starts.

The 24-year-old right-hander has not yet found consistency with his slider or complete comfort with the changeup he worked to develop with Tom Glavine's assistance last winter. But Wisler has shown enough potential with his repertoire to extend the belief that he can at least be an effective middle-of-the rotation piece at the big league level.

Wisler's primary burden appears to be his mental fortitude, which became a more glaring concern to the Braves as he produced a 7.71 ERA over the 10 starts he made from June 5-July 28. This stretch resulted in a three-week stint in Gwinnett, where the righty was tasked with learning a more aggressive approach.

When Wisler returned to Atlanta's rotation on Aug. 25, he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and limited the D-backs to one run over eight innings. He tweaked his left oblique muscle as he completed six more strong innings against the Padres six days later and consequently missed nearly two weeks.

Effective outings against the Nationals and Marlins were sandwiched between the other two disappointing starts Wisler produced in September. In other words, the final month provided a fitting finish to a season that included promise, disappointment and reason to enter this offseason with something to prove.

"I had some really good starts and some really good [stretches], but I also had some really bad starts and some really bad [stretches]," Wisler said. "I've proven I can pitch up here, but I've also proven I can be very inconsistent, and when I'm bad, I'm really bad for stretches."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.