Braves: Ian Anderson looks to solidify himself as the team’s third ace

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Ian Anderson won’t get any first-place votes for the NL Rookie of the Year award. However, if he had started the year in the majors, he probably would have followed in the footsteps of Mike Soroka, who finished second in the Rookie of the Year race last season, or perhaps even better. Anderson has been that outstanding since joining the major league club in late August.

From his MLB debut, the rookie from Clifton Park, New York has not blinked. His first start came against a loaded Yankees lineup, and through his first five big-league innings, he did not allow a single hit. Luke Voit broke up the no-hitter with a home run, the only knock New York was able to record on him in six innings of work, and it was enough to outduel one of the league’s best pitchers over the last three seasons — Gerrit Cole. If you weren’t already convinced he was special then, his consistency throughout the rest of the season has left little doubt about what the future holds for the 22-year-old.

In six starts, Anderson has only allowed more than two earned runs one time when he gave up three earned runs to the Marlins over 4.2 innings. His control was a little iffy in that one, but he still was able to prevent the game from getting out of hand, thanks to eight strikeouts. Speaking of punchouts, Anderson has 41 of them over just 31.2 innings (11.4 K/9), in large part due to his filthy off-speed offering, which has proven to be the perfect compliment to his mid-90s fastball.

Anderson has been so impressive that he left no doubt about who would start Game 2 in the Wild Card Series for the Braves. Now, he just has to follow in the footsteps of Mike Soroka one more time.

In Game 3 of the NLDS last season, the Maple Maddux made his highly anticipated debut against the Cardinals and delivered a gem. Soroka went seven innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run, as he was asked to match veteran Adam Wainwright step for step. The Braves wound up winning that game and taking a 2-1 series lead. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to finish the job in Games 4 and 5, but this time, Anderson has the opportunity to leave no doubt.

After squeaking out a victory in Game 1 against the Reds — thanks to a tremendous effort from Max Fried and the bullpen— the Braves have an opportunity to secure their first playoff series win since 2001.

The Braves’ rebuild was built around pitching. So far, some might call the development of a lot of those pitchers a disappointment. However, nobody can claim that if Anderson takes care of business Thursday afternoon. Soroka and Fried have already been involved in Cy Young races and produced in the playoffs. They are aces. With Anderson, the Braves may have a third, and there is no better time for him to announce himself to the baseball world than Game 2 against the Reds.

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