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Next test for Anderson's dominance? Game 7

Braves have '100 percent confidence' in their flawless-to-date rookie
@mlbbowman
October 18, 2020

Having already gotten a feel for Ian Anderson’s poise and maturity, the Braves are confident the rookie will rise to the occasion when he starts Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers on Sunday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

Having already gotten a feel for Ian Anderson’s poise and maturity, the Braves are confident the rookie will rise to the occasion when he starts Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers on Sunday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 12 ATL 5, LAD 1 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 13 ATL 8, LAD 7 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 14 LAD 15, ATL 3 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 15 ATL 10, LAD 2 Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 16 LAD 7, ATL 3 Watch
Gm 6 Oct. 17 LAD 3, ATL 1 Watch
Gm 7 Oct. 18 LAD 4, ATL 3 Watch

“I’ve got 100 percent confidence in him,” said Atlanta ace Max Fried. “He’s as prepared and smart as they come. You would never know this is his rookie year. The way he goes about his business is extremely impressive.”

Braves forced to Game 7: 'It's going to be fun'

Anderson will be the first Braves rookie to start Game 7 of any postseason series, while the Dodgers will turn to Dustin May, who went two innings in a start in Game 5 on Friday. This will mark the first time two rookies have started against each other in a winner-take-all playoff game.

At 22 years, 169 days old, Anderson will become the sixth-youngest pitcher in postseason history to start a winner-take-all game. The teams for the other five -- Fernando Valenzuela, Bret Saberhagen (twice), Don Gullett, Jaret Wright (twice) and Marty Bystrom -- have gone a combined 6-1.

Rookie pitchers who started Game 7

“It’s obviously the goal for everyone to make the playoffs and have a chance to move on to the World Series,” Anderson said. “We have that chance tomorrow.”

Still, while Anderson made just six career starts before the playoffs began, it’s easy to forget he is a rookie. He has not allowed a run while totaling 15 2/3 innings through his first three career postseason starts. Anderson kept the scoreless steak alive despite issuing five walks over four innings during the Braves’ Game 2 win over the Dodgers.

The story behind surprise pick Ian Anderson

Anderson has impressed going all the way back to when he was selected with the third overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. But his rise this year has exceeded expectations. The Braves’ rotation was in shambles most of the season, but the club chose to keep Anderson at the alternate training site through the season's first month.

Provided a chance to extend the development he was denied with the cancellation of the Minor League season, Anderson debuted on Aug. 26 and promptly took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Yankees. He posted a 1.95 ERA over his six regular-season starts and showed why he ranks as the game’s No. 34 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

Less than two months later, Anderson is preparing to make one of those Game 7 starts he dreamed about while growing up a Red Sox fan in upstate New York.

“It’s surprising a little bit,” Anderson said. “But I always thought there was a chance I’d be here. It might not have worked out the way I thought it would, but I’m here. So I’m going to take the mound and give it everything I have for the team. That’s why you play, to be in situations like this.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.