1st start as a Marlin turns sour fast, becomes learning experience for Anderson

June 15th, 2024

WASHINGTON -- For the majority of his five years in MLB, has been a reliever. But on Friday night at Nationals Park, Anderson was called to make a start for the first time since Aug. 7, 2019.

“He was a power reliever a few years ago, it’s how I remember him when we faced him -- me with the Padres, and then the Giants -- so it’s a much different profile now,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “He's been a starter kind of his whole life until he got to the big leagues.”

Knowing Anderson’s history as a starter, Schumaker opted to call on Anderson to fill the vacant starting role in the series opener vs. the Nationals, following Ryan Weathers' placement on the injured list. The start was also Anderson’s debut with his new team, after the Marlins acquired him from the Rangers in May.

Anderson had a solid start facing the top half of the Nationals’ lineup, retiring six of the first eight batters he faced -- with a little help from his defense -- over two scoreless innings, allowing three hits. (One of those hits, CJ Abrams’ leadoff double, ended in an out, though, after a throw from right fielder Dane Myers caught Abrams as he tried to extend his two-bagger into a triple.)

But in the third inning, Anderson’s debut began to crumble, resulting in the right-hander allowing seven runs on 10 hits (including a three-run homer) without recording an out in the inning as the Marlins lost, 8-1.

“The first two innings I felt really good, and I was just executing pitches,” Anderson said. “I think, coming through the second part of the lineup, they just started swinging early. I like to throw strikes and I like to throw up in the zone, and I think some of the pitches were just left a little too up -- and they were capitalizing on that.”

Anderson continued to fight, working to get outs that never came. After Anderson had thrown 14 pitches and allowed seven consecutive hits to open the third inning -- four of which came on the first pitch of the at-bat -- without recording an out, the call to the bullpen was made. Anderson threw 37 pitches total (28 strikes) over his two-plus innings.

The 29-year-old became the third starting pitcher this season to allow 10 hits over six or fewer outs this season, joining the A's Ross Stripling and the Astros' Hunter Brown.

“It’s tough,” Anderson said. “I definitely wanted to come in and throw strikes, save the bullpen but did the opposite of that. But I’ve played with a lot of these guys, so it’s been fun rekindling with them a little, but I’ve just got to focus and get ready for the next start and just be a little more fun.”

Huascar Brazoban stepped in to complete the inning -- one run, charged to Anderson, crossed before Brazoban ended the frame. Once Miami had escaped the inning, Brazoban's goal shifted to saving his fellow relievers by eating up as many innings as possible; it ended up being 3 1/3 innings. Schumaker did not want to send Brazoban out for the fourth inning, but tried to get another inning out of the right-hander anyway.

“Probably unfair to [Brazoban] honestly,” Schumaker said. “But when you get two innings out of your starter, that’s kind of what needs to happen and guys have to pick him up, and Braz did.”

The reliever dealt without relinquishing a run until his fourth time on the bump. Brazoban exited with one out in the sixth, with runners on the corners. The Nationals tacked on one final run, charged to Brazoban.

The rest of the bullpen -- A.J. Puk (one-third of an inning), Declan Cronin (one inning) and JT Chargois (one inning) -- followed suit, successfully limiting the damage and keeping the Nationals scoreless while allowing one hit combined.

“Puk got out of it. Shaggy [Chargois] was good, Cronin was good," Schumaker said. "It was just tough to come back from that deficit."

It may not have been the first impression Anderson wanted to deliver in his first appearance as Marlin, but Schumaker was overall pleased with Anderson’s repertoire. Now, it’s a matter of working on pitch location and focusing on his next start.

“I gotta be just a little more fine,” Anderson said. “Work more edges, you know? I like to work halves because I like just throwing a lot of my stuff on the plate. I think when that happens -- these hitters are good and they're gonna kind of make contact. I mean, there were a little bit of bloopers and soft hits, but I think if I work a little more edges, those might be swinging misses or just ground balls.”