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New reliever Matt Wisler eager for whatever advice Rays have

Right-hander acquired from the Giants is confident a few small adjustments can get him back on track.
New Rays pitcher Matt Wisler before Saturday's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field.
New Rays pitcher Matt Wisler before Saturday's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]
Published Jun. 12
Updated Jun. 12

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays acquired reliever Matt Wisler from the Giants on Friday with the idea that some small suggestions could improve his performance.

Wisler joined the Rays on Saturday, saying he is eager to listen and get to work at getting back to his top form.

“The stuff that they’ve done here, and the guys that they’ve produced here, it’s been pretty incredible the last couple of years,” Wisler said. “Hopefully I can come in here and obviously make some small adjustments and stuff that kind of clicks on the mound.”

Wisler, 28, was designated for assignment by the Giants last week after a compiling a 1-2, 6.05 record, allowing 13 runs (including four home runs) in 19 1/3 innings over 21 games. Seven of those runs came in his first six games. That was in contrast to his 2020 performance with the Twins, when he had a 1.07 ERA in 18 games, allowing only three runs in 25 1/3 innings.

One big difference has been throwing his slider too much — a majors-most 90.3 percent of the time — and a low-90s fastball the rest. Another change is not throwing the slider as well.

“For the most part, I felt like this year, I’ve actually attacked better,” he said. “My walks and stuff like that were down, I felt like I was getting ahead a lot better.

“I ran into the trouble; it seemed like everything put in play was basically being a hit. And that’s what is kind of frustrating this year. And that’s hopefully the stuff that’ll kind of turn around while I’m here. … I think a little bit my slider was staying up a hair more. So making sure that gets down where it needs to be, where guys can’t lift it and turn it into outs.”

The Rays likely will encourage Wisler, who last pitched June 8, to throw the fastball more, allowing him to get a more desirable mix of using the slider only about 80 to 85 percent of the time, which should make him less predictable. “Kind of get some guys off (the slider) a little bit more,” he said.

Also Saturday:

⋅ First baseman Ji-Man Choi played in the second of two extended spring games with no issues from the left groin strain that landed him on the injured list, and he could be activated Sunday or, more likely, Monday.

⋅ Chris Archer, out since early April with forearm tightness, threw off the mound for the first time (10 pitches) and will continue to build volume for two weeks, then start facing hitters.

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