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Atlanta Braves Blog

The Atlanta Braves blog by David O'Brien, baseball writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Braves' Wisler faces Nationals in series opener

WASHINGTON -- Matt Wisler's second major league start came at Nationals Park back in late June. The Braves rookie will look for far better results when he returns to face the Nationals on Thursday night.

Wisler will try to bounce back from a winless August and help the Braves snap an eight-game skid when he faces the Nationals and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann in a series opener in D.C. Zimmermann has long been the Nationals pitcher that's given the Braves the most fits, not Stephen Strasburg  (who'll miss this series with another  injury, this time upper-back tightness that bumped him from his Friday turn).

Wisler, after going 5-1 with a 3.43 ERA and .272 opponents’ average in his first seven major league starts during June and July, went 0-4 with a 7.85 ERA and .342 opponents’ average in six August starts, including 0-3 in the past three. He did pitch much better in his last start than his previous August starts, allowing four hits, two runs and four walks in six innings of a 3-1 loss to the Yankees.

The Braves lost five of his six starts in August including the past four  in a row, after winning in five of his first seven starts.

Wisler is 2-4 with a 6.53 ERA and .333 opponents’ average in eight road starts, compared to 3-1 with a 3.52 ERA and .252 OA in five home starts. He’s allowed 10 homers in 40 innings on the road, while he’s given up just two homers in 30 2/3 innings at home.

Left-handers have really done a lot of damage against Wisler, even more than they have fellow starter Julio Teheran. Lefties have hit .338 with a .422 OBP and alarming .628 slugging percentage in 145 at-bats against the rookie, while righties have hit .261/.295/.410 in 134 at-bats. Wisler has 29 strikeouts with six walks against righties, but against lefties that ratio is flipped, with more walks (21) than strikeouts (16).

This will be the third start for Wisler against  the Nationals, the only he has faced more than once in his 13 starts. He’s 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against them. After getting whacked for nine hits and six runs (four earned) in four innings of a June 25 loss at Nationals Park, Wisler faced them again in his next start July 1 and shut out the Nationals on one hit and five walks in 5 1/3 innings of a win at Turner Field. That was and is his only MLB start with no runs allowed.

Zimmerman has won his past three starts and is 3-3 with a 3.90 ERA in his past nine starts, with 50 strikeouts and only one walk in 55 1/3 innings. He’s 3-0 with a 4.34 ERA in his past three starts, and the Nationals have scored seven, nine and five runs while he’s been in those three games, for an average of 10.1 runs per nine innings he’s pitched in that three-start span. (What would Shelby Miller do for that kind of run support?)

Zimmerman is 6-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 14 starts against the Braves, including 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in four this season. He hasn’t allowed a run in 15 2/3 innings during his past two starts against the Braves.

Zimmermann is 6-3 with a 2.58 ERA in 15 home starts, compared to 5-5 with a 4.67 ERA in 12 road starts.

Against the Nats righty, Nick Markakis is 9-for-25 with a homer and Freddie Freeman is 9-for-24 (.375), while Andrelton Simmons is just 4-for-25 (.160), Cameron Maybin is 3-for-19 (.158), and Michael Bourn is 1-for-12 with five strikeouts.


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About the Author

David O'Brien has covered the Atlanta Braves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 2002.