RHP Matt Wisler
If you want the best combination of 2020 performance and potential contract amount, this just might be it.
Matt Wisler was acquired by the Minnesota Twins last offseason after he had been placed on waivers by the Seattle Mariners. He wound up having the best season of his career so far, albeit in a small sample size of a shortened season.
In 18 games last season, Wisler compiled a 1.07 ERA (3.35 FIP) and a 1.145 WHIP, both career low marks, over 25 1/3 innings. He was a bit multi-functional as well as he was used as an opener in four games, pitching no more than two innings in any outing, and picked up one save as well.
Wisler also set a career high mark in strikeouts per nine (12.4) as well as career low marks in hits per nine (5.3) and home runs per nine (0.7).
The one problem is that all of this came with a sharp rise in walks per nine. His 5.0 BB/9 in 2020 was by far a career high and well above his career average of 3.0.
It’s possible that this was a result of using a new pitch mix in 2020. Having used four to five pitches in past seasons, Wisler condensed his mix to just two pitches last season, a slider and a four-seam fastball. His primary pitch was actually the low-80’s slider, which he used a career high 83.4% of the time last season. The fastball he pairs with it runs in the low 90’s.
Despite the rise in walks, his approach in 2020 made him somewhat of a Statcast darling. Wisler found himself ranking in the top 10% of the league in several statistical categories including hard hit rate (28.6%), barrel rate (3.6%), and XBA (.146).
Still 28-years-old, Wisler was reaching his second year of arbitration this offseason and was projected a raise in the range of just $1.1MM to $1.8MM per projections at MLB Trade Rumors. Yet the Twins still decided to non-tender.
That’s exactly the type of price range where if Wisler’s 2020 proved to be a fluke, it wouldn’t hurt to cut bait and move on. It’s also why Stearns should give him a strong look.