Anderson flashing closer stuff out of bullpen

September 12th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- As he jogged back out to the mound to pitch the ninth inning, couldn’t help but notice that the Giants had no one else warming in the bullpen.

A back injury to closer Will Smith had left a significant void at the back end of the bullpen, and Anderson was going to receive his first chance to fill it. The 24-year-old rookie succeeded, securing the final four outs of the Giants’ 5-4 win over the Pirates on Tuesday night to earn his first career save.

“When I went out for the ninth, I had a feeling that was mine,” Anderson said. “The game was on the line, and it was pretty much up to me. I was happy to get the job done.”

Closing is nothing new for Anderson, who racked up 13 saves during his junior season at the University of Florida in 2016. After he was selected by the Red Sox in the third round of the '16 Draft, he received the opportunity to become a starter, a role he retained after being dealt to the Giants as part of the Eduardo Nunez trade in 2017.

Anderson debuted with San Francisco in May and posted a 5.33 ERA over 16 starts before a blister issue caused him to lose his spot in the rotation last month. He’s pitched out of the bullpen since returning to the Giants, and has shown an uptick in stuff in his recent relief appearances, reaching 96 mph with his fastball and 90 mph with his slider on Tuesday.

“I think his tenacity, his demeanor is pretty closerish,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “Pretty impressive for a kid who just got sent to the bullpen a few weeks ago. He’s owning that role, and he’s trying to be the best he can be out of that role. He wanted to close. He wanted a chance for the ninth, and he got it.”

The Giants remain split on whether Anderson is best suited for a starting or relief role moving forward, but manager Bruce Bochy said he expects to give the young right-hander more late-inning looks over the final weeks of the season. If Smith departs as a free agent this winter, Anderson could become a closing option for the Giants in 2020.

“It’s certainly nice to have that option if you’re a pitcher, the ability to start or relieve,” Bochy said. “Next year, that’ll be a call that they’ll have to make. Where is he going to bring the most value? Helping out in the bullpen or starting? He’s had some good starts here, too. He’s not like a lot of relievers that lose stuff when they get to a certain pitch count. He has shown that he maintains his strength there throughout his outings.”

Injury updates

• Smith underwent an MRI exam on Tuesday that came back clean and is expected to resume throwing on Thursday. If he continues to improve, he could be ready to go for this weekend’s series against the Marlins.

’s right shoulder surgery went better than expected, as the capsule in the joint did not need to be repaired along with the labrum.

took some swings Wednesday and could return to action this weekend. Dickerson has not played since Sept. 3 and received a cortisone injection in his sore right oblique last week.

Worth noting

did not start for the second consecutive game, as Bochy wanted to keep Vogt’s bat in the lineup after he homered and drove in four runs against the Pirates on Tuesday. Posey is expected to catch Thursday’s series finale.

come out of his 2019 debut without any issues, but the Giants are planning to give him extra rest before he makes his next start against the Red Sox next Tuesday at Fenway Park. Cueto threw 69 pitches against the Pirates in his return from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday night.

September 11 remembrance

• The Giants and Pirates held a moment of silence before Wednesday’s game to remember the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Players, coaches and umpires wore caps with a side patch of a “We Shall Not Forget” silhouetted batter ribbon.