Anderson (7 no-hit innings) sees bright future for Rockies

September 16th, 2023

DENVER -- flirted with Rockies history Friday night at Coors Field, but he ended with something more enduring: the feeling that his well-being mattered as much as his success.

Anderson held the Giants hitless through seven innings of what ended a thrilling 3-2 walk-off victory. Two times previously in his career, Anderson went as far with no hits.

Friday was a little strange. Anderson matched a career high with five walks, and the Rockies trailed, 1-0, when decision time arrived for manager Bud Black.

Anderson was at 101 pitches -- his first time reaching triple digits since June 21, 2019, while a member of the Brewers. More importantly, it was his third start back after missing eight starts with right shoulder inflammation.

“I’m not going to risk that for Chase Anderson, for his career,” Black said.

“We're both on the same page about that, and I respect his decision,” Anderson said. “He cares for me as a person and my health as a pitcher. So that was huge to be on the same page. You want to get back out there, but the risk at over 100 pitches [of] injury kind of goes up from there.”

Anderson, 35, was touched that the manager cared for his future, and Friday gave him more reason to believe his future could be with Colorado, a 54-92 squad that recently endured a 3-17 stretch composed largely of close games. This week, the Rockies have shown growth against contending teams like the Cubs, from whom they took two of three, and the Giants, against whom they have three more this weekend, including a doubleheader on Saturday.

Colorado went eight innings without allowing a hit until J.D. Davis doubled off Nick Mears (who replaced an injured Justin Lawrence in the eighth) to open the ninth. It was tied for the second-longest no-hit bid at Coors Field in club history. Kyle Freeland went 8 1/3 against the White Sox on July 9, 2017; and Germán Márquez went eight against the Pirates during his one-hitter on June 29, 2021.

Mears walked in the go-ahead run, but Matt Koch fanned Austin Slater to end the ninth. In the bottom of the frame, Elehuris Montero singled off closer Camilo Doval to drive in Charlie Blackmon, who led off the inning with a double. Nolan Jones, who had walked ahead of Montero, scored the winning run when Mike Yastrzemski’s throw to the plate hit Blackmon in the back and eluded catcher Patrick Bailey.

“That’s team-building into next year,” Anderson said. “The identity of the team is starting to show. Being part of this team as an older veteran, it’s fun.”

The Rockies’ need for starting pitching led them to claim Anderson off waivers from the Rays in May. Anderson’s no-decision Friday left him 0-5 with a 6.43 ERA in 15 starts for Colorado.

The Rockies are expected to start 2024 without Márquez and Antonio Senzatela, who are both coming off Tommy John surgery. In an incredible stretch of misfortune, pitching prospects Gabriel Hughes, Jackson Cox and Jordy Vargas all underwent Tommy John operations the same week as Senzatela. A free agent at season’s end, Anderson has told the club he wants to re-sign.

“I’m starting to love these guys, being the older guy,” Anderson said. “When you’re the rookie in 2014, getting called up, you never think you’re going to be the veteran that helps lead. I’m not vocal, but I feel like I can provide stability to the rotation.”

Anderson’s performance Friday left his ERA at Coors this season at 4.98 -- not ideal, but the ledger includes nine runs on 10 hits (including three homers) and two walks over 2 2/3 innings in a 25-1 loss to the Angels on June 29. On Friday, he showed resilience and execution.

Last Saturday at Oracle Park, Anderson gave up six runs over 3 1/3 innings in a 9-1 loss to the Giants. But on Friday, Anderson and catcher Elias Díaz reversed their strategy by working high and inside to righties and lefties, then mixing an effective changeup.

“His game plan is good,” Díaz said. “He believes in all four of his pitches. We walked a lot of guys, but he was able to execute.”

Anderson finished the night by striking out Brandon Crawford on a curve -- which he employed more often than usual -- in an at-bat that included a ball pulled foul into the third deck in right.

A reason for Anderson’s faith in the Rockies is he has seen a team develop quickly before.

“I was in Milwaukee in 2016, the first year of rebuilding with [general manager] David Stearns, and the next year we were one game from the Wild Card -- it happened that quick,” Anderson said, with a finger snap for emphasis. “The next year we won the division, then the Wild Card in ‘19. It can happen faster than you think. We have the right pieces in place to make a run.”