Wisler gives Braves something to think about

Wisler gives Braves something to think about

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Braves manager Brian Snitker said that "nothing's locked down yet" on who will be the club's No. 5 starter, even though Mike Foltynewicz has made a strong case this spring to be that man.

Matt Wisler is trying to make the decision a little tougher. The 23-year-old right-hander made his case for consideration on Friday in the Braves' 5-4 Grapefruit League loss to the Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Wisler tossed four shutout innings, allowing only one hit with no walks and two strikeouts in his first start this spring after giving up eight runs over 7 1/3 innings of relief work in his previous three appearances.

Wisler made 26 starts last season, the second most on the Braves. He finished the season 7-13 with a 5.00 ERA, but struggles in July prompted a demotion to Triple-A Gwinnett for a month. He returned in late August to register three wins in six games.

"I had some ups and downs last year," Wisler said. "I'm trying to put a full year together this year. Keep those ups and down minimal and be more consistent throughout the year."

Should Foltynewicz secure the No. 5 spot in the rotation, then Wisler very well could begin the season at Gwinnett, or the Braves could decide to keep him as a long reliever.

"Whatever's open on the team, if I can make it as long relief, I'll take any role I can to get on the big league team," Wisler said. "It's obviously where I want to be. Even if I don't break [camp with the Braves], obviously the goal at some point is to get up there and help the team win. I'm just going to try to get myself as ready as possible right now."

Wisler said he's been working on his changeup this spring to make it more a part of his arsenal, and for the most part he was pleased with his effort against the Astros.

"My slider got better as the game went on," Wisler said. "The changeup is going to be big for me. I think I'm definitely more comfortable with throwing it. I've definitely got some strides to make, but it's coming along pretty well."

Whether it's well enough to make the Opening Day roster is still up in the air, according to Snitker, who praised Wisler's outing.

"There's nothing set in stone," Snitker said of where Wisler might fit in at the start of the season. "[It depends] on how we view him helping us more, whether it's starting in Triple-A or relieving out of the 'pen or as a starter, we don't know. We're going to need him before the year's over. He's going to have to be a big part of what we're doing."

Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.