Anderson looks to 'right' his pitching in Triple-A

March 16th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman’s Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

is a year younger than was when he righted himself during an extended stint at the Triple-A level in 2021. The 24-year-old Anderson is also the same age as John Smoltz was when the Hall of Famer finally figured things out midway through the 1991 season.

The Braves did what was best for Anderson when they optioned him to Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday. The move essentially ended the right-hander’s candidacy to begin the season in Atlanta’s rotation, but it also created an opportunity for the hurler to get back to where he was before his decline last year.

“He worked his [butt] off, but he still wasn’t right,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We just want to get him back going because we’re going to need him.”

Anderson spent this past offseason looking forward to the chance to prove things had changed since last year, when he was sent to Gwinnett after posting a 5.00 ERA through 22 starts. He worked on a slider and tried to regain the consistency he lacked with his delivery in 2022, but the results didn’t appear much different over the past couple of weeks.

Command has continued to be a problem for Anderson, who issued at least two walks in each of his three appearances that ranged from 1 1/3 to 3 2/3 innings in length. Four of the six runs he allowed this spring came on the pair of homers he gave up during his first outing.

While the results might have improved over the two appearances that followed, something was still off. Over the past couple of weeks, many people asked, "What’s wrong with Ian?"

One talent evaluator said Anderson needs to get back to commanding his fastball down in the zone. His inability to consistently do that has led hitters to just look at his changeup out of the zone. At this point, his slider just presents a horizontal look to right-handers. It doesn’t look like it currently has the whiff capability of his curveball.

Wright seemed lost before he righted himself in the Minors in 2021, and he went on to lead the Majors with 21 wins in '22. Anderson has already shown his potential, posting a 1.26 ERA through eight career postseason starts. A reset could get him back to where he and the Braves want him to be.

“He’s pitched a lot of big games in his young career,” Snitker said. “He’s only 24. They’re going to go to work and break some things down. I’m just hoping he can get himself back going.”