Anderson has 1st stumble: 'Tough to swallow'

September 7th, 2020

ATLANTA -- Losing an extra-innings game to a division opponent is easy to overcome. But losing back-to-back games started by and  could have lingering effects for Atlanta.

Anderson endured the first rough start of his young career and Adam Duvall’s game-tying homer in the ninth was not enough for the Braves, who took a 5-4 loss to the Marlins in 10 innings on Monday afternoon at Truist Park.

Miguel Rojas’ 10th-inning RBI double off A.J. Minter brought the Marlins within 3 1/2 games of the Braves, who have just a two-game lead over the second-place Phillies in the National League East.

But the current standings aren’t as important to Atlanta as the current state of its rotation. Two days after Fried experienced a decrease in velocity, Anderson took the mound in the series opener against the Marlins and lasted just three innings after it took him 83 pitches to record nine outs.

“I’d rather go out there and go five or six [innings] and give up three or four [runs] rather than just going three,” Anderson said. “For me, as a starter, that’s always tough to swallow.”

Over the next three days, Atlanta will use Kyle Wright, Tommy Milone and possibly Fried as its starters. Wright is returning to the big league level looking to complete five innings for just the third time in nine career starts -- and he's still in search of his first win. Milone has totaled 6 1/3 innings in two starts since being acquired from the Orioles.

As for Fried, Braves manager Brian Snitker mentioned the possibility of getting the lefty an extra day of rest after his four-seamer averaged 90.9 mph on Saturday. That was down from the 93.9 mph average velocity he’d produced in his previous starts.

Looking at the state of this rotation, it’s easy to see why, with the end of the regular season less than three weeks away, the Braves are still hoping to count on Cole Hamels, who threw live batting practice for the first time on Sunday. Hamels will repeat that exercise again in a couple days, then possibly begin to build innings.

Snitker didn’t rule out the possibility of Hamels building these innings in big league games over the season’s final two weeks. That would mean the southpaw would likely be slated to pitch two to three innings in his first start and three to four innings in his second.

It’s not an ideal situation in the midst of a playoff race. But it’s not like this would be much different than what the Braves have been getting. Their starters have completed three innings or fewer in more than one-fourth (11 of 41) of their games. They have thrown four innings or fewer in more than half (22 of 41) of the games.

“I’d love to get [Hamels] back,” Snitker said. “Even however short, it would be good to have him starting games for us.”

Anderson became a much-needed addition when he arrived a couple weeks ago and began his career with impressive six-inning efforts against the Yankees and Red Sox. Still, it was expected that the 22-year-old might experience days like this one, when his second-inning throwing error led directly to a run and may have indirectly influenced the two walks that led to another run in the third.

“It’s on me,” Anderson said. “I should have been able to lock back in and refocus a little bit quicker.”

Less than two weeks into his career, Anderson stands with Fried as the only Atlanta starters to complete at least six innings twice this year. His ability to quickly put this outing behind him will significantly influence how stable the Braves' rotation becomes over the final weeks.

“It’s a learning moment,” Snitker said. “He’s a young kid. It’s not going to be easy all of the time.”