Anderson 'in a good spot' after leaving '22 in past
NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Ian Anderson exited the 2021 World Series as one of three pitchers in MLB history to record a 1.50 ERA or lower over at least eight career postseason starts. He concluded his frustration-filled 2022 season at Triple-A.
“It was a good reset,” Anderson said. “I’m not glad it happened. But I think it will be a positive in the long run.”
A refreshed and energized Anderson returned to Spring Training this year looking forward to a new start and the chance to prove he can be an asset in Atlanta’s rotation for many years to come. The 24-year-old hurler is just 60 starts into a career that has already introduced himself to the highs and lows of a humbling game.
Anderson burst on the scene during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, shined during that year’s playoffs and again tasted postseason success while helping the Braves win the 2021 World Series. But the guy who helped the Braves win Game 3 of that same Fall Classic by throwing five scoreless innings, is now looking to show he deserves one of the five spots in Atlanta’s rotation.
Early indications are Anderson has righted himself. The right-hander has regained consistency in his delivery, added a slider to his repertoire and returned with the confidence he may have lost while posting a 5.11 ERA over 21 starts before being optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett last year.
“He’s not the first and he won’t be the last that experiences something like this,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s just part of the game. A lot of them have had to do that.”
Now Anderson is looking forward to being the latest member of this group to make a successful rebound. He is the favorite to fill the one vacant spot in Atlanta’s rotation, especially now that his best friend Michael Soroka has been slowed recently by a tight hamstring.
“He looks really good,” Snitker said. “It’s just good that we’ve got him back healthy. He’s been down here working all winter.”
What did Anderson think most significantly influenced last year’s woes?
“My delivery was in a bad spot,” Anderson said. “It just wasn’t letting me do what I wanted to with the ball. I really don’t know how it happened. If I did, I could have figured it out earlier. I don’t know if it was pitching late into the season with the World Series and then coming back last year and picking up a ball and just thinking it was going to happen. I really don’t know.”
Fortunately, Anderson knows he can be successful in the Majors. He posted a 1.95 ERA over six regular-season starts in 2020, then constructed a 3.58 ERA as he made 24 starts over his first full big league season in '21.
Anderson just never found comfort last year. He was bothered by a toe blister near the end of Spring Training and completed five innings in just one of his final four starts in June. The Braves acquired Jake Odorrizi from the Astros on Aug. 2 and optioned Anderson to Gwinnett five days later.
Initially, there was hope Anderson would right himself and return to be a part of Atlanta’s rotation down the stretch and into the postseason. This hope grew as Odorizzi continued to struggle. But thoughts of extending the playoff dominance evaporated as Anderson posted a 5.40 ERA over the four starts he made for Gwinnett before being shut down for the year with an oblique strain.
“Instead of just focusing on my work, I think I was kind of one foot here and one foot down there thinking that there was still a chance that I could have come back and helped the team,” Anderson said. “So I almost think the injury kind of helped me a little bit. It was like, 'All right, now it’s time to just reset. This season's done and I need to do what I can to put myself in the best position for Spring Training next year.’ I feel like I was able to accomplish that.”
Along with a cleaner delivery and the slider, Anderson has come to camp with the confidence you’d expect from somebody who stands with Christy Mathewson and Stephen Strasburg as the only pitchers to post a 1.50 ERA or lower through at least eight postseason starts.
“I feel like I’m in a good spot,” Anderson said.