WBHF attended Braves FanFest on Saturday and the atmosphere was fantastic. Many Braves players such as Freddie Freeman and Kelly Johnson were at the event, along with some prospects, which have helped make this Braves farm system one of the best in baseball.
Fans were able to take photographs, get signatures and listen to roundtable discussions with the opportunity to ask questions at the end. Several things were covered in the roundtable discussions including: trades, the 2016 season, minor league depth and Sun Trust Park.
Throughout FanFest, WBHF was able to speak to numerous Braves players and executives and we will bring you those interviews each week leading up to the baseball season. This week, we got to speak to Matt Wisler, who is poised for a breakout 2016 campaign.
“It’s all on me now. I need to go out and prove that I’m capable to last a full season up here.”
Those were some impactful words from Atlanta Braves starter Matt Wisler, who made his big league debut in 2015. The Braves will ask a lot from the 23-year-old who endured a rough seven game stretch in 2015, but pitched well at the end of the year.
Many have already slated Wisler as the fourth starter, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez didn’t exactly give that impression. “Julio (Teheran), maybe Bud (Norris),” were the names that Gonzalez mentioned.
But you may see a new Wisler in 2016.
“Coming into the season last year I was just trying to stay up whereas this year I want to start to establish myself and prove that I can be a quality big league starter,” was Wisler’s reply about how last years experience will help him this year. Sure, experience is helpful when trying to establish yourself, but Wisler has something that many others in his shoes do not.
“I think he mentioned ‘I was just a phone call away,’” Wisler said. The “he” that Wisler is referencing is Tom Glavine. “We had a cup of coffee for two hours and talked baseball, and he wanted to watch me throw.” Glavine, a 300-game winner and Hall of Famer, wanted to work on Wisler’s changeup.
“We talked about getting it down and throwing it more. I think he had the same changeup grip that I did too so it was nice to just talk philosophy.”
“When he came here I remember everyone saying he had this great changeup and he had it his first couple of starts, but as he went his slider became his secondary pitch,” Braves catcher AJ Pierzynski said. He mentioned that he admired Wisler for his work ethic after he struggled and said that Glavine was as good of a guy to learn from for someone throwing a changeup.
Glavine’s pitch was the changeup and relayed to Wisler how confident he was in throwing the pitch and when he would throw it. The young starter wanted to make the development of his changeup a big part of the offseason. Wisler said he wasn’t nervous to reach out to Glavine, but he was just happy to work with him. “I’m going to take advantage of that,” the right hander said in reference to Glavine reaching out.
If you factor out a bad seven-game stretch, Wisler was 8-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 12 starts and was averaging more than six innings per start. With Wisler working with one of the best masters of the changeup that many of us have ever seen, he might be primed for a breakout season in 2016.
“It’s definitely a pitch I need to learn.”