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The confusing case of Matt Wisler and the Giants

Why the Giants so quickly gave up on him, we may never know.

Miami Marlins v San Francisco Giants Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

We’re very close to finishing our reviews of every player who took the field for the 2021 San Francisco Giants. Who knew there were so many players with a “W” surname? Anyway, next up is right-handed reliever Matt Wisler.

2021 review

21 games, 19.1 innings, 6.05 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 1.293 WHIP, 26 strikeouts, 6 walks, -0.3 rWAR, 0.0 fWAR

The Giants, like most smart baseball franchises, tend to trust the process. If they have reason to believe someone is good — or good enough, as the case sometimes may be — they keep that player around. The results might not be there, and the fans might grumble, but the Giants (usually) stay the course.

There are some exceptions, of course. Connor Joe comes to mind. Michael Reed comes to mind. Jaylin Davis making the 2020 Opening Day roster then getting optioned after 12 plate appearances and never returning comes to mind.

And now Matt Wisler comes to mind.

The Giants signed Wisler to a Major League contract prior to the 2021 season. They don’t do that all that much — there are a lot of Minor League contracts in the bullpen depth chart.

But they had reason to give Wisler the rare real contract, presumably because they saw something good in his arm, and presumably because what they saw was validated by his 2020, in which he had a 1.07 ERA and 3.35 FIP, with 35 strikeouts to 14 walks in 25.1 innings.

Wisler struggled with the Giants, at least in the run suppression department (which, to be fair, is the most important department for pitchers). His strikeout numbers were good. His walk numbers were good. His hit numbers were decent, but too many of them left the ballpark, and too many came with runners on base.

I thought nothing of it. The Giants clearly valued him, and they weren’t in the business of giving up on players. Stay the course, I thought.

And then they designated him for assignment, and eventually traded him (and cash) to the Tampa Bay Rays for left-handed pitching prospect Michael Plassmeyer.

If you look at the years before Wisler’s stellar 2020, it’s easier to see how the Giants moved on so quickly. He was bad in those years. His first five seasons, from 2015 through 2019, he had a 5.20 ERA, a 4.80 FIP, and 304 strikeouts to 125 walks in 389.1 innings. Not good.

But if you look at his 2020, and the strikeout numbers he put up with the Giants, and the fact that Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris liked him enough to give him a Major League contract, then you won’t be surprised to see what he did in Tampa Bay: a 2.15 ERA, a 2.22 FIP, and 36 strikeouts to 5 walks in 29.1 innings.

It would seem the Giants made an error in their calculations, which came only after making an accurate calculation.

Role in 2022

If I had to guess, Wisler will be putting up a stellar strikeout-to-walk ratio for a team that doesn’t play 81 games a year in San Francisco. Specifically, the Rays, as he’s still under team control.

Grade: C-


How do you grade Matt Wisler’s season?

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232 votes total Vote Now