Two Braves Starters May Get Called Up Soon

A few days ago the Braves entered extra innings with only one reliever available. As the game could have very well continued far past that point, the Braves were bracing themselves for using Alex Wood on his throw day and pushing his start back. They were considering bringing up Matt Wisler, if they were forced to use Wood that afternoon, but the Braves lost the following inning and the situation was avoided. What this does show is that the Braves are close to bringing Wisler up, and I expect him to be in Atlanta sooner rather than later as Mike Foltynewicz has struggled of late as well.

In addition to Wisler being close to a call up, former Yankee farmhand Manny Banuelos is an option for the Braves to call up as well. Currently Banuelos has a 2.19 ERA in his first professional season away from the Yankee franchise.

Matt Wisler

Wisler is the more highly regarded option at this point and on the verge of his 23rd birthday he has progressed quite nicely throughout his minor league career. Acquired the day before the season in the Craig Kimbrel trade, Wisler has an underwhelming 4.29 ERA but that is mostly due to a 64% left on base rate. He has not had walk problems, home run issues, and he has not been overly hittable (.307 BABIP). The unfortunate luck with men on base is not a positive, but it also shows that he has pitched much better than his ERA suggests.

Wisler has not posted impressive strikeout rates in his 190 triple-A innings between the Padres and Braves, but he has improved his walk rate this past year. Currently, Wisler’s 4.8% walk rate is the fifth lowest in the International League, and no other pitcher in the top 10 in walk rate is under 24-years-old.
In looking at the Steamer projection for Wisler, it has him at a 3.84 ERA with decent strikeout numbers but not spectacular. I would say for a rookie season that is more than reasonable. In long term leagues you should be very happy to have seen Wisler make the improvements in his walk rates. While you want more strikeouts, he looks like he should be able to be a solid middle of the rotation starter very soon.

Manny Banuelos

Banuelos currently leads the International League in ERA and while it feels like he has been around forever, he is still just 24-years-old. Walks are continually an issue for Banuelos and the walk issues themselves are why I would personally opt to call up Wisler before Banuelos at this current moment.

While that is how I feel, it may not necessarily be how the Braves feel. Banuelos does have a 3.38 FIP at triple-A this season, but that is mostly due to him suppressing home runs. Last year, home runs were a huge problem for Banuelos as he was still recovering from his elbow injury, but I would not be too confident in his ability to suppress home runs. I have to imagine that number spikes back up to at least a league average mark were he to be called up.

Banuelos has just seven fewer strikeouts than innings pitched, and Steamer likes Banuelos a lot as a bullpen arm – in comparison to the players the Braves have been running out there so far this year. It is not unlikely that both Banuelos and Wisler are called up in the near future, and as Wisler’s the player that was moved for Craig Kimbrel and not David Carpenter, I think the Braves would be more willing to move Banuelos into the bullpen than Wisler.

While neither of these starters are the type of guys you expect to get called up and be a top of the rotation arm for you right away, they could add some depth at no cost. If you have an “N/A” spot available, using it on Wisler for the time being is not a bad idea. If you have room to stash either or both, I expect the Braves make a move to call one of them up within the next two weeks.

Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.

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7 years ago

It’s been said that the Braves will limit Banuelos’ innings for the year because of the injury and the fact that he’s never pitched more than 120 innings in a season. There’s been speculation all season that that will lead him to some time in the pen in the 2nd half.