The 2018 season was finally the end of the line for the relationship between Matt Wisler and the Braves organization. He was the crown jewel prospect who came over to the Braves in the shocking pre-Opening Day trade in 2015 that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Padres. He eventually made his major league debut with the Braves in that same season and he took his lumps for a couple of seasons as a young pitcher on a rebuilding team.
By the time 2017 came around, it was time for Wisler to start showing some true progress, but he spent most of the season stuck in neutral due to the fact that he pitched more innings at the Triple-A level than he did in the bigs. He had gone backwards from being considered a future rotation mainstay to a spot starter at best. So now that brings us to 2018, where the expectations for Wisler were officially on the floor.
Bottom line, what did he do in 2018? He made three spot starts in late-April and mid-May, which included a great start against the Mets on April 19. After that, Wisler once again split time between Gwinnett and Cobb County. When he did show up for the Braves after making those initial starts, it was strictly as a reliever and he got lit up every time he was called upon for relief duty. It wasn’t pretty and the writing was basically on the wall as far as his future with the Braves was concerned.
Will Wisler be on the roster next year? It won’t be as a member of the Braves. Wisler made his final appearance with the Braves on June 30 and exactly one month later, he was traded to the Reds along with Lucas Sims and Preston Tucker for Adam Duvall. Adam Duvall ended up being awful and Preston Tucker returned to the Braves not long afterwards, so this trade was really just the Braves cutting bait with both Wisler and Sims — two prospects who were once highly touted but ended up falling to the wayside once the Braves began adding even better pitching prospects.
Anyways, Matt Wisler ended up being used as an okay-ish bullpen arm for the Reds. When you consider that the Reds are still probably going to be low on baseball’s pecking order next season, it seems likely that Wisler will be involved with the Reds in some form or another next season.
What is he going to do next year? He’ll probably end up fighting for a roster spot and if all goes well, he’ll continue being a reliever for the Reds and maybe he’ll make some starts here or there. It’s basically the same role that he had with the Braves for the past couple of seasons, but I’d imagine that he’ll spend more time in the bigs than in Triple-A with the Reds. If there was such a thing as Quadruple-A baseball, he’d be the man at that level. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing so he’ll probably continue riding the elevator next season.
Highlight of 2018: He was called upon for spot-start duty against the Mets on April 19 and duly delivered seven innings of excellent work. That’s basically it as far as legit highlights are concerned.
Lowlight of 2018: In Matt Wisler’s final appearance as a Braves pitcher, he entered in mop-up duty as the Braves held an 11-0 lead at St. Louis. Wisler entered the game with two outs in the seventh. After throwing 1.2 innings, the wheels came off in the ninth inning as he gave up four runs and exited that frame without getting an out.
(Ivan’s note: As far as non-garbage time goes, the lowlight for Wisler’s 2018 season came on the heels of his highlight. While it was just another flash in the pan, Wisler’s start against the Mets was exciting in part because of the seven scoreless innings, but in larger proportion due to a very shiny 8/0 K/BB ratio in that start. His great outing earned him another start, where he went back to being an April version of The Great Pumpkin: five innings, four runs, a homer, and a dreadful 0/3 K/BB ratio. So much for turning a corner, unless that corner was back on the highway to Triple-A.)
That was it and that was all. In the words of the best professional wrestler walking the Earth today, “Goodbye and good night.”