Anderson adjusts to life in the bullpen
Right-hander made 2019 debut in Friday's loss to Cardinals
MILWAUKEE -- With Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress on the injured list, the Brewers need every bullpen bullet they’ve got. That made Chase Anderson’s season debut on Friday more than mere mop-up duty.
In the second relief appearance of his career (the other was in 2016 when he was recovering from a line drive off his leg), Anderson used all four of his pitches while working two innings at the end of Milwaukee’s 9-5 loss to the Cardinals. Critically for Anderson, if he is to succeed in the role, he said his arm bounced back well.
“Very different, but good,” Anderson said. “I could pitch today if I had to. Obviously, I’m a little sore, but that’s going to happen.”
Anderson warmed up three times, beginning in the first inning as starter Freddy Peralta struggled through a 39-pitch opening frame. He finally got in the game in the eighth and allowed a run on two hits and two walks. Anderson threw 34 pitches.
“It was good in the sense that he has to figure out how quickly he can get ready, and what he can cut out of his [starting] routine,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Today, we’ll start to figure out how he recovers from an outing like that.”
The Brewers are trying to answer questions about Anderson and the rest of the bullpen in these early-season contests as Counsell tries to piece together 27 outs with a mostly young rotation and a relief corps depleted by season-ending injuries to Knebel (Tommy John surgery) and Bobby Wahl (knee), as well as Jeffress’ slow start because of arm weakness.
Of the eight relievers on the Opening Day roster, only veteran Alex Wilson didn’t pitch in the first two games.
At the same time he adjusts to a reliever's workload, Anderson is figuring out how his repertoire plays in shorter stints. Corbin Burnes, for example, went almost exclusively with fastballs and sliders last season out of the Brewers bullpen, but he is converting back to a five-pitch mix this year in the starting rotation. Anderson, however, used his full arsenal on Friday night.
“Why not?” Anderson said. “If you have four outs, use them. I’m trying to get outs. My fastball was good yesterday. Curveball was good. Cutter was good for first-pitch strikes. Changeup was good. I feel good about it.”