'Old soul': Anderson's stuff beyond his years

Braves' Game 3 starter, 23, 'just a really mature guy'

October 28th, 2021

ATLANTA -- will be 23 years, 180 days old when he starts Game 3 of the World Series for the Braves on Friday night at Truist Park.

Teammate will believe it when he sees the birth certificate.

“I mean, he's like 65 years old in a 24-year-old person's body,” Jackson said this week to a round of laughter. “It seems like he's seen everything, when he hasn't seen anything.”

That part is true: Anderson already has seen a lot, at least in October. The third overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, Anderson is heading into his eighth postseason start, a remarkable thing considering he made his Major League debut just 14 months ago.

But it’s a fact. Anderson, who has started 30 big league regular-season games over the past two years, has started seven postseason games and has pitched more than ably in them.

“He couldn't help but grow, I think, because he dropped in here last year,” manager Brian Snitker said on Thursday. “We kind of thrust him immediately into the playoffs. He came in and pitched against the Yankees his first start, so we kind of forced him to grow up, I think. But getting to know him from Spring Trainings and all, [he’s] just a really mature guy, mature player, kid, man.”

Anderson goes into this Game 3 of a tied World Series with a 3-0 record and a 1.47 ERA in 30 2/3 postseason innings with a better WHIP and strikeout rate in the postseason than he has in the regular season. The Braves have won six of the seven postseason games he has started.

In other words, there have been no signs of nerves.

“It doesn't surprise me. I don't think it surprises a lot of guys,” fellow Braves starter said. “For a guy as young as he is, he's extremely confident in who he is as a person. He knows what he brings, and he knows what his ability is. And he knows that if he goes out there and executes his game plan, that he's going to do a pretty good job."

According to Elias, Anderson will have the fewest career regular-season starts at the time of his eighth career postseason start. That mark had belonged to the Rays' Tyler Glasnow (51). With that, the Astros will have to base their approach against Anderson off game planning more so than experience.

“Definitely going to try to use that to my advantage,” Anderson said. “I think with my pitch mix, it definitely helps me out a little bit with the fastball-changeup. [I am] definitely going to try to be on the attack, feed off the energy of the crowd and put the pressure on them.”

When Anderson takes the mound Friday, it will be in Atlanta’s first World Series home game since Game 2 against the Yankees in 1999, a Series that turned into a four-game New York sweep. Since the Braves also lost all three home games in the ‘96 World Series against the Yankees, Anderson will be pitching for the Braves’ first Fall Classic win at home since Game 6 against Cleveland in 1995, when and combined on a one-hitter in a 1-0 victory that sealed the Series.

“I know that there hasn't been a World Series game here for quite some time now, and it's definitely an honor to be starting the game tomorrow night,” Anderson said. “I think keeping my emotions in check and kind of just taking it all in is going to be a big factor.”

In this postseason, Anderson has allowed three earned runs on nine hits in 12 innings over three starts against the Brewers and Dodgers. The Braves won all three games.

Atlanta will lean on Anderson even more in this round after losing Game 1 starter to a fractured right fibula. Morton’s World Series is over as Anderson and the Braves play on.

“It's one of those things where he's just an old soul and kind of goes out there and does the work," Jackson said. "He’s a punch-the-clock kind of guy, 9 to 5, ‘Let's go; let me go out there and pitch.’ Today's the World Series, tomorrow's Opening Day and today's Wednesday at noon in Pittsburgh. It's kind of all the same to him, and that's what makes him pretty special.”