After scoring 15 runs on 17 hits the night before, of course, the Braves bats went mostly silent for Ian Anderson’s last start on Saturday, managing just six hits and two runs (both solo home runs). However, oddly enough, all six of those hits were of the XBH variety.
Bad Luck for Ian Anderson
Overall, despite it being the worst start of his short career so far (per Game Score), it’s hard to critique Ian Anderson’s outing Saturday, and for a worst-start-of-the-year type performance, I’d gladly take what Anderson managed to give the Braves, especially against a Mets team with sneaky power at the top of its lineup.
Getting the hook with two outs in the 5th inning and the Braves down 3-0, thanks to some obvious control issues, Anderson needed a whopping 99 pitches to set down 22 batters on Saturday. Although, given his bloated pitch-count, it could’ve been worse, and he wound up walking off the mound in favor of reliever Tyler Matzek, having tallied eight strikeouts, thanks to consistently changing the eye level of Mets’ batters with his four-seamer and changeup.
Anderson’s line: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 8 K
Of his 99 pitches, Anderson chose the heater 63 times and did an excellent job keeping the 94 mph pitch up high in the zone. However, with the bases loaded in the opening inning (after three consecutive walks to start the game, followed by a three-pitch strikeout of Dominic Smith), Anderson got bit by some bad luck when Robinson Cano hit a fastball to the left side of the infield that more than likely would have remained there if not for a dramatically shifted Dansby Swanson. Mets lead 2-0.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 19, 2020
When Anderson wasn’t trying to go up with the four-seamer, he was having a good bit of success down in the bottom portion of the zone with his changeup. Burying that offspeed offering, along with three-straight walks in the 1st inning, is primarily what drove his pitch-count up as he bounced several. Still, when Anderson could spin it just right, the Mets had absolutely no answer (literally). New York’s batters swung seven times at his changeup, whiffing five times and fouling two off, making you wonder why Anderson didn’t lean on the pitch a little more throughout the outing (though it was obvious he was having trouble with his grip, hence the bounced pitches).
The Mets struck once more against Anderson in the 4th inning, again off the heater, as the other guy named Robinson (Robinson Chirinos) somehow pulled 93 mph down-and-in down the third-base line, just inches away from the glove of a diving Austin Riley for an RBI double.
Again… a rather lucky hit, and it was only Chirinos’ third extra-base hit of the season. Nevertheless, the Mets lead 3-0.
Anderson finished strong, though, which just goes to show how mature he really is, having allowed three runs from a couple of junk hits. He got the last two outs of the fourth via strikeout and popout and followed that by striking out J.D. Davis and forcing Dominic Smith to ground out in the 5th, before getting pulled just before he could hit 100 pitches.
I’m not worried. Anderson looks ready to go for what should be an exciting postseason next week. And with Kyle Wright showing out his last two times on the mound, the Braves could very well enter the playoffs with three strong starters, in Max Fried, Anderson, and Wright. Either way, next week should definitely be exciting, considering how hot the Braves’ offense is.