Anderson continues his remarkable comeback story
PHOENIX -- When the Dodgers signed Brett Anderson, it was all about one big "if."
If … he could stay healthy.
For 16 starts, he has. Anderson has turned into one of the best acquisitions by the deal-a-day front office. He was supposed to be a fifth starter, but with the attrition of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy from season-ending injuries, Anderson is a continually improving No. 3 for the Dodgers, pitching them to a 4-3 win over the D-Backs Wednesday night.
"He's been a godsend," said A.J. Ellis, who caught Anderson's seven innings. "I don't know where we'd be without him as our No. 3, and at times he's been a No. 1 or 2."
Anderson allowed one run, struck out seven and improved his record to 5-4, while lowering his ERA to 3.00. That's the most wins he's had since 2010, the five intervening years derailed by a series of injuries ranging from Tommy John elbow reconstruction, to a broken foot and finger, to lower back surgery that ended his 2014 season.
Anderson, an early comeback-player-of-the-year candidate, said his goal remains the same as when he first entered the Dodgers' clubhouse in Spring Training, having signed a one-year, $10 million contract after Colorado didn't pick up his option.
"I want to prove to people I can pitch and make as many starts as I can," he said. "I want to show baseball, show the Dodgers and show my teammates they signed me for a reason."
Anderson had to be crafty in this game, even though the Dodgers gave him a 4-0 lead by the third inning as Kiké Hernandez tripled and doubled, Howie Kendrick drove in two runs and Justin Turner doubled in a run.
But the D-Backs had runners on base each of the first six innings, and the only run he allowed was Aaron Hill's sixth inning solo homer.
"It wasn't my best," Anderson said, "but I'll take it."
Manager Don Mattingly said Anderson has stepped in to fill the void Ryu left. "Every time we've given him the ball he's been solid," said Mattingly. "He's able to go deep enough in a few games to give our bullpen a little relief. I wouldn't mind having Ryu and Brandon too. But he's thrown well every time out."
"He knows who he is," said Ellis, who doubled, walked twice, scored a run and combined with first baseman Scott Van Slyke to bail Anderson out of a first-inning jam by sneaking behind A.J. Pollock after his bloop single, taking Van Slyke's throw from shallow right field and tagging Pollock out.
"Brett has the ability to get opponents to put the ball on the ground. The strikeouts just happen. Maybe opponents get a little too eager and swing too hard. They see the velocity is not overpowering, but his pitches are sharp with late life and he keeps the ball off the bat."