Braves: Ian Anderson progressing well as he aims for Summer return

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It’s almost remarkable to think Ian Anderson is just 25 years old because of everything he’s experienced with the Braves at such a young age.

Anderson made his MLB debut with nobody in the stands in 2020, something only a few players in the history of the game can claim. Immediately, he became an impact player for a team starving for starting pitching, giving them a solid #2 behind Max Fried, even if he was only 22 years old.

In six regular-season starts that year, Anderson boasted a 1.95 ERA, finishing seventh in the NL Rookie of the Year race. However, it was his postseason run that really turned heads. In his first two starts, he struck out 17 batters over 11.2 innings and did not allow a run. He then held a loaded Dodgers lineup to just two runs over seven innings in the NLCS.

2021 was Anderson’s first full season in the bigs, and he experienced his first taste of adversity as the league began to catch up to him, but the postseason magic never left. He shut out the Brewers in the NLDS, helped lead the Braves over the Dodgers in the NLCS with two quality starts, and then no-hit the Astros over five innings in a pivotal Game 3 of the World Series.

There may be questions about Anderson’s pitch mix, specifically the lack of an effective third offering, but he is a big-game pitcher. When push comes to shove, there haven’t been many guys better in the history of baseball. Through eight postseason starts, Anderson has a 1.26 ERA with a K/9 north of 10. The guy shoves when it matters, and though injuries have plagued him since 2021, he’s aiming to return to action sometime this summer.

“Hopefully, some point middle of the summer,” Ian Anderson said when asked about a timeline for his return. “I don’t want to put a strict date on it because that just puts some expectations out there. Yeah, hopefully sometime middle of the summer I’m back and pitching in games, and one thing leads to another and I’m back at Truist.”

Shoulder issues really held Ian Anderson back in 2022. The hope was that a full offseason would get him closer to 100% the following year, but he struggled during Spring Training and it was eventually revealed that he would undergo Tommy John surgery.

It’s been a brutal stretch for a young man who has had so much success early in his career, but there have been a plethora of cases where pitchers come back even stronger following Tommy John surgery. The Braves aren’t going into the 2024 campaign expecting Ian Anderson to have a considerable impact. That’s why they went out and added a guy like Chris Sale, but Anderson could just be another ace up the Braves’ sleeve that could if he works his way back to the pitcher he was in 2021.

Photo; David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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