Let's not bury the lead here. Gwinnett pitcher Matt Wisler pitched a gem Saturday night against the Columbus Clippers. He pitched 8.2 scoreless innings and gave up just two hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts.
But the real story might have been with Braves manager Brian Snitker. In an era where alarms seem to sound in many dugouts when pitchers get close to 100 pitches, Snitker let his starting pitcher go a bit.
And while Wisler was not able to finish the game, Snitker should still be applauded.
Here's why. Through eight innings, Wisler was at 99 pitches. The Braves came out in the bottom half of the ninth inning and scored the go-ahead run to take a 1-0 lead. So Snitker allowed Wisler to go back out to start the ninth inning to try and complete the shutout.
The first batter, Brett Hayes, struck out for the first out of the ninth inning. Then top prospect Francisco Lindor came to the plate. Wisler did not get a call on a close 2-2 pitch where he threw a curveball that looked like a strike. Then Lindor fouled off several more pitches before Wisler walked him on a 3-2 pitch.
Obviously, after allowing the base runner, Wisler was removed from the game. Snitker had little choice then, with Wisler at 112 pitches, but to take him out. Snitker probably did not want the pitch count to get out of control, and likely didn't want Wisler to lose the game either.
But still, to allow a pitcher with 99 pitches to go back out to try and finish the ninth inning and get a shutout was a tremendous move by Snitker. How else will pitchers learn to pitch late into games in the major leagues if they are prematurely pulled simply because of the pitch count in the minors?
It is understandable that with all the elbow injuries in baseball, organizations and managers are going to be careful. But the thought that pitchers are destined for injury just because of going over 100 pitches is silly. When a starting pitcher is doing well, and has his adrenaline going, there is no reason to take someone out just because he was at 99 pitches through eight innings. Wisler deserved the chance to go back out there and try to finish his tremendous performance.
How great was it for Wisler to have that experience? He looked disappointed that he walked Lindor, likely believing he had him struck out on the 2-2 pitch. And Wisler was probably upset that close pitch likely cost him the complete game shutout. But for him to be given the shot to go out there and have a chance at a complete game was good for his development.
It is interesting Wisler's 112-pitch performance came on the same night his former teammate went over 100 pitches with Atlanta. Wililams Perez, who started the season in the Gwinnett rotation, threw 105 pitches in his seven-inning gem against the Giants. It was only the 16th time in 49 games an Atlanta pitcher has surpassed 100 pitches in a start.
Alex Wood has had 100 or more pitches four times (out of nine starts), while Julio Teheran and Shelby Miller have both done it three times out of their 10 starts apiece. Eric Stults, Mike Foltynewicz and Perez have all gone past 100 pitches twice.
But would Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez allow a pitcher who was sailing along through eight innings come back out after 99 pitches to finish the game? That seems unlikely. But Snitker should be commended for doing the right thing and not being afraid of letting a pitcher pitch.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hooray Brian Snitker!
Atlanta Dugout Top Stories
Dustin Peterson's improvement continuesWho has likely been the player of the year in the Braves' farm system? Most likely Dustin Peterson in Mississippi.
Adonis Garcia giving Atlanta options at 3BBill Shanks has some impressive numbers on Adonis Garcia, who is giving the Braves options for third base for the future.
New Review: Gwinnett BravesDoes having your Triple A affiliate in close proximity reinforce the team brand and help attendance, or will the parent club cannibalize ticket sales and hurt attendance figures?…
Stadium JourneyWednesday at 5:56 AM
Braves get two prospects for CervenkaThe Braves have added two more young players with the trade of reliever Hunter Cervenka to Miami.