Aug 30, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Diego Padres second baseman Ryan Schimpf (11) turns a double play over Atlanta Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte (11) in the sixth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA — When the Atlanta Braves sent Matt Wisler back to the minors in early August, they made it clear to the young right-hander that they wanted to see more aggression and mental toughness on the mound.
Wisler showed just that on his return last Thursday in Arizona, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning and then continuing to battle after the Diamondbacks got their first hit.
“From the get-go, he just looked really focused,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. “He was locked in and it was just like he was on a mission.”
The Braves (49-83) hope to see the same mindset Wednesday night when Wisler faces the San Diego Padres (55-76) in the middle game of a three-game set at Turner Field.
“There were some things I needed to fix,” said Wisler, who is 5-11 with a 4.92 ERA. “Me going down (to Triple-A Gwinnet) just allowed me to pitch without having to worry about a lot of things.”
Wisler worked eight innings in the 3-1 victory at Arizona and showed that he has the stuff to get major league hitters out when he sets his mind to it.
The 23-year-old right-hander, acquired from San Diego before last season, began the season well and then went into a tailspin.
Wisler had a 3.21 ERA in his first 10 starts, limiting the New York Mets to one hit over eight innings in early May. Then he had a 7.71 ERA in the 10 starts that preceded his demotion to Triple-A.
After the outing in Arizona, it looks like he might be ready to finish strong.
“The kid has stuff,” Snitker said. “We knew that when we sent him out. It wasn't about stuff, it was about the whole package. It doesn't hurt these guys to take step back to take a step forward.”
Padres right-hander Paul Clemens, who will start against Wisler, also wants to finish strong as he pushes for a spot in 2017.
Clemens, who was drafted by the Braves in 2008, is 1-3 with a 4.68 ERA in 10 games (six starts) for San Diego since being claimed off waivers from Miami on June 28.
“He has the potential to pitch in the rotation for a long time,” manager Andy Green said. “He just has to remain focused on what he has to do, block out what happens on the periphery. If he does that, he has enough stuff to compete and win,”
Clemens went a season-best 5 1/3 innings last Wednesday in a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
“Paul has grown in just the brief time he's been with us,” Green said. “He's commanding his fastball better and he's shown a little bit better control of the running game.
“He's got a great feel for his curveball and he has a changeup that he hasn't thrown as much as we'd like to see him throw. He's got really good off-speed pitches.”
The Padres took two of three games from Atlanta at San Diego in early June, but the Braves won the series opener at Turner Field 7-3 on Tuesday night.
It was the first victory at home this season for Julio Teheran, who is 4-9 despite a 3.12 ERA.
The Padres also suffered an injury, with catcher Christian Bethancourt leaving with a left intercostal strain suffered on a swing.
“He's not feeling that great right now,” Green said.
A trip to the disabled list appears likely, but rosters can expand on Thursday anyway.