San Diego Padres' Matt Wisler Struggles in Audition for Rotation Spot

By Jason Cooper
Matt Wisler
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

We know a young San Diego Padres pitcher will have to step in for injured starter Josh Johnson; what we don’t know is which young Padres pitcher that will be.

Matt Wisler is one of two pitchers currently up for consideration, with the other candidate being Robbie Erlin.

Before we go any further, let’s look at a quick tale of the tape:

Wisler is a 21-year-old top pitching prospect who has never pitched beyond double-A. However, Wisler pitched extremely well in the minors with a final stat-line of a 2.78 era with 131 strikeouts in 136 innings of work in 2013. His Cactus League numbers have been decent this season, striking out 3 in seven innings with a 3.52 era.

Erlin is 23 years old and unlike Wisler has some experience at the big league level. In 54 innings pitched for the Padres in 2013, Erlin pitched well for his first taste of big league action as he compiled a 4.12 era while striking out 40 hitters. He’s also pitch well in the Cactus League this spring only allowing two runs and striking out six in seven innings for a an era of 2.45.

OK, now that we have a little background on the two young pitchers we can move further.

Wisler would get the first crack at an audition for Johnson’s spot on Sunday as the starter in the Padres 11-7 loss to the Texas Rangers, and just from looking at the score, you could probably tell that things didn’t go well for Wisler.

Wisler would retire the side in the first inning — a first inning that included an inning-ending strikeout of Prince Fielder. So far, so good for Wisler. He would keep it rolling with two-straight outs to begin the bottom of the second inning, then things started to fall apart.

With two outs in the second Wisler would allow three straight hits, with one of those hits resulting in a run scored before ending the inning without further damage. Things would only get worse in the bottom of the third as he was chased from the game with two outs in the inning after multiple hits and a wild pitch resulted in four earned runs.

Wisler finished with a stat-line of five earned runs in 2.2 innings of work, not a good look when a spot in the starting rotation is on the line. Wisler might have more upside than Erlin from a skill standpoint, but based on Wisler’s performance today, a decent outing from Erlin this week could earn him the job.

If Erlin struggles himself, well, the Padres will have a tough decision to make.

Jason Cooper is a San Diego Padres writer for  Follow him on Twitter @mrjcpr or add him to your network on Google.

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