Rob Whalen was acquired last season in the trade that sent Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe to the Mets. He has since impressed in both AA where he recorded a 2.49 ERA over 18 starts and AAA where he recorded a 1.93 ERA in just 3 starts. Coming into the season, it seemed unlikely Whalen would see the bigs, but due to numerous injuries and trades, the Braves turned to Whalen to take the mound on Wednesday night at Turner Field against the Pirates.
The debut did not begin exactly how Whalen might have imagined. He was struggling with control and clearly battling the nerves of a typical major league debut. A two-out three-run home run by Matt Joyce opened the doors up for a four-run Pirates first inning. Whalen labored through the next two innings but was able to avoid giving up a run. As his pitch count began to run up, Whalen threw his best in the fourth and fifth frames.
Whalen finished the night throwing five innings, giving up four hits and four earned runs, while striking out five. However take out that lousy first inning, and Whalen threw four innings of one-hit baseball with five strikeouts. It was a night that easily could have been one to forget in his career, but his capability to put a tough inning behind him and keep fighting is a rare site for a pitcher his age. The night became an even more memorable one when the Braves were able to rally behind Whalen and take the lead in the bottom half of the fifth. Atlanta was able to widen their lead, allowing Whalen to pick up his first major league win in his debut.