Braves: Pencil Nick Anderson into the Opening Day roster

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One of the players I was most excited to see in Spring Training was Nick Anderson. Once a highly touted reliever for the Tampa Bay Rays, he’s been limited to just six innings since 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. There’s no telling how a pitcher will bounce back after that kind of layoff, but Anderson is showing this Spring the kind of upside he can bring to the Braves bullpen.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander has eye-popping career numbers, albeit the sample size is only 87.1 innings. Anderson owns a 2.89 ERA while striking out a remarkable 14.1 batters per nine innings with a WHIP south of one. I didn’t know if that was the guy the Braves were getting when they signed him to a non-guaranteed deal this offseason; now, I’m thinking he could be even better.

Anderson did have one forgetful outing in his second appearance, where he gave up a couple of runs, but his upside has been apparent from the moment he toed the rubber for the first time with a tomahawk across his chest. Over five appearances, he’s struck out ten, allowing just four hits with the two runs (3.60 ERA). Anderson has also yet to walk a batter, which was also a staple of his time with Tampa Bay. For his career, he owns a 2.4 BB/9 — another reason to be excited about what he could bring to Atlanta’s bullpen.

The Braves relief core is chock full of high-upside arms, but Nick Anderson has shown enough to warrant a spot on the major-league roster. Not only that, but I think he has a chance to establish himself in a set-up role sooner rather than later. Anderson was one of Anthopoulos’ many cheap gambles this offseason, and he could be the one that pays the most substantial dividends.

Photo: Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

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