Anderson eager for next step after best season of career

Dodgers left-hander expected to start third game of NLDS in first postseason

October 3rd, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- At the time of his signing, was a bit of an afterthought in the Dodgers rotation. He was signed to add depth, beginning the season in the bullpen.

It was such an under-the-radar signing that the news of Anderson and the Dodgers agreeing to a one-year deal was put out while the team was introducing Freddie Freeman, easily the biggest free-agent signing of the offseason.

Six months later, there’s no secret how big a part Anderson has been to this Dodgers team. He was named an All-Star for the first time in July. And in his final regular-season tuneup, the veteran left-hander matched a career high with 10 strikeouts in the 4-1 loss to the Rockies on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

“I thought he was good. He punched a lot of guys out,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He competed and gave us a chance to win, so I thought it was a good outing for him. He’s had a tremendous season for us and I know he’s excited about this next step.”

The next step for Anderson will be pitching in the postseason for the first time in his career. Not only will he finally experience postseason baseball, but he’s expected to play a big role.

Over the next week the Dodgers will have to decide who their ace is. The favorite to start Game 1 of the NL Division Series in nine days is Julio Urías, who has put together a Cy Young-caliber season. If Urías gets the Game 1 nod, it’ll be Clayton Kershaw in Game 2.

Unless something changes over the next week, Anderson will likely take the mound in Game 3. While the Dodgers are expected to lean heavily on their bullpen, having Urías, Kershaw and Anderson sharp will be a major key.

“He’s going to be a big piece of it,” Roberts said. “He’s going to take down a lot of innings for us to be good and for us to win a championship. Knowing he’s going to start a game here in the first series and beyond. He’s obviously earned that, but he’s a big part of what we’re doing.”

In March, Anderson was fighting for a spot in the rotation with Tony Gonsolin, Andrew Heaney and David Price. Ultimately, Gonsolin and Heaney won out, leaving Anderson, who was the last player to arrive to Spring Training, in the bullpen. But as injuries piled up, the Dodgers turned to Anderson more.

All he has done since then is deliver with the best season of his career. After allowing two runs over five innings on Sunday, Anderson wrapped up the regular season with a 2.57 ERA, easily the best of his career. Anderson set a career high in innings in the process, ending the season with 178 2/3.

“It’s good,” Anderson said. “Obviously you don’t want to go out with a loss, but it felt like, for the most part, I made pretty good pitches and I feel like I’m in a good spot with everything, so I’ll take that, overall.”

Over the next 10 days, Anderson will go through at least one simulated game at Dodger Stadium to get him ready for the postseason. Anderson couldn’t have been any better during the regular season. But over the next month, Anderson will get to live out what he imagined when he signed with the Dodgers back in March.

“I think that the regular season was good,” Anderson said. “But I didn’t want to come here to have a good regular season. I wanted to come to have a chance to be in the postseason. Once that starts, hopefully the best starts are ahead of me.”