Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Braves (6/23-6/25)

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Jun 19, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Matt Wisler (37) delivers a pitch to a New York Mets batter in the fifth inning of their game at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Wisler (1-0, 1.13) vs. Doug Fister (2-3, 4.80), 4:05 PM ET, MASN2

On the night that the regular season began, the Braves went out and traded Craig Kimbrel to the San Diego Padres. On Thursday, Matt Wisler, one of the prospects that Atlanta got in that deal, will be pitching against the Nats in his second career start.

In his first start last Friday against the Mets, the 22-year-old right-hander went eight innings, gave up one run on six hits, struck out two, and walked none in a 2-1 win in which he outdueled Jacob deGrom. When he was with triple-A Gwinnett, Wisler was 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA in 12 starts.

Wisler has four pitches in his arsenal when he goes to the mound. He has a sinker that can get up to the mid-90’s in velocity, a changeup, a slider, and curveball. For more on Wisler, check out this scouting report by Wayne Cavadi of Grading on the Curve, who saw the right-hander pitch in April.

As for Doug Fister, he will be making his second start since returning from his forearm injury. Against the Rays last Thursday, he went 5.1 innings, gave up five runs on nine hits, and struck out three batters on 87 pitches. While the 31-year-old seemed to tire out at the end of his outing, there was a positive to take from that game.

For one, Fister kept his sinker low in the zone. He induced 12 groundball outs, which is the most in any start for him since April 22 against the St. Louis Cardinals. If he can keep the ball down and avoid giving up the home runs (six in eight starts), he should be able to bounce back once he is used to going deeper into games.

Against the Braves this season, Fister is 0-1 with a 5.11 ERA in two starts. In his last start against them on May 9, he gave up three runs on six hits in 6.2 innings, but got the no-decision because the bullpen blew the lead. A.J. Pierzynski, Atlanta’s catcher, is 5-for-24 against him with two home runs and three RBI’s.

Advantage: If this matchup turns out to be the rubber game in this series, it is a toss up. The Nationals have no experience against Wisler, so they will need some time during the game to make adjustments. Fister looked okay in his return, but can he go past the fifth inning with his A stuff? Based on the Nats having no experience against this young pitcher, Wisler gets the slight edge here and the Braves take two of three in Washington.

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