It looks like the Braves have finally started to turn around what has been a dismal 2021 season, but one thing that has been pretty consistent along the way has been the performance of Ian Anderson, who has quietly put together another high-quality season after bursting onto the scene in 2020:
I didn’t know if Anderson could sustain the masterful performance he put on to end 2020, but he was very effective during the postseason and looked to be a prime 2021 NL Rookie of the Year candidate. Right now, Jim Bowden has Anderson behind 2021 NL All-Star Trevor Rogers of the Marlins:
Anderson has lived up to the high expectations he created last year when he posted a 1.95 ERA, a 2.54 FIP and 11.4 strikeouts per nine in six regular-season starts. His postseason performance was even more remarkable as Anderson went 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA in four starts (18 2/3 innings). That excellence has largely carried over to 2021. Anderson’s fastball lives in the mid-90s, and he throws it 47 percent of the time. The changeup is his best secondary pitch; opponents are hitting just .183 against it, and he throws it a whopping 32 percent of the time. He also mixes in a curveball to keep hitters off-balance. Anderson is currently on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation and made a rehab start Thursday at Triple-A Gwinnett. He is 5-5 with a 3.56 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 96 big-league innings this season. Anderson has the tools, command, poise and moxie to be an All-Star caliber pitcher for years to come.
Anderson is very close to returning from injury, but thankfully, the Braves have been playing well in his absence. You can still make the argument that he has been Atlanta’s most consistent arm all season. While Charlie Morton didn’t really catch fire until June and Drew Smyly has caught on of late, Anderson has been the steady middle-of-the-rotation guy the Braves badly need with Mike Soroka on the shelf due to injury. I don’t know if Anderson can win NL Rookie of the Year, but if he plays like he did down the stretch in 2020, he’ll absolutely be in the conversation.