Seattle Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto takes no time off. Early on Independence Day, he acquired right-handed pitcher Matt Wisler from the San Diego Padres for cash considerations.
In layman’s terms, the Mariners bought a reliever from San Diego. This time, they bought a 26-year-old Matt Wisler, a long-time starting pitcher prospect who has begun a transition to the bullpen this season.
As a starter, Wisler was a command and feel pitcher, relying on throwing strikes and missing few bats. This season in San Diego’s bullpen, he began throwing his slider more than ever and has seen his swing-and-misses go through the roof.
In 29 innings for the Padres, Wisler posted a 10.55 K/9 and a 3.65 xFIP. He also posted a solid 43.4% groundball rate. But Wisler was bitten by the long ball in San Diego, posting a 19.2% HR/FB ratio. Yikes.
But what is interesting about Wisler is that his batted ball data shows a guy who is actually in the upper 25% for allowing soft contact. His average exit velocity is in the 76th percentile, which is very good.
It will be interesting to see if Wisler is going to get moved back to the rotation or remain in the pen. Smart money says the bullpen, but he may be the best “Opener” profile on the Mariners current roster. He has the ability to go multiple innings and the stuff to give a different look from Tommy Milone and Wade LeBlanc.
With no options remaining, Wisler will join the 25-man roster in the coming days, meaning somebody will need to be sent down. Matt Festa and Mike Wright seem to be the prime candidates, but Festa can be sent down without being exposed to waivers.
Wisler and his 93 MPH fastball and a sweeping slider is an interesting arm to watch going forward. It wasn’t so long ago he was a starter and could head back in that direction. At 26-years-old, he does have some upside potential as well.
Jerry Dipoto has quite literally purchased a lottery ticket in Wisler. And while “winning on this ticket” may not have a high payout, it also cost next to nothing to play. And you know what they say: “you can’t win it if you’re not in it”.