Ian Anderson would like to forget his 2022 campaign. Over the offseason, Anderson spent time at the Wake Forest pitching lab, where he refined his mechanics and developed an offering with horizontal movement — a slider.
Anderson’s fastball/changeup combination was incredibly effective, but other clubs seemingly caught on last year. Though he has a curveball in his arsenal, it was a standard 12-to-6; he had no pitches that moved horizontally, until now.
With Braves Spring Training in full swing, Anderson is deploying his new pitch, and it’s netted early success. Michael Harris II and Matt Olson both struck out, and the latter had this to say:
“It’s a really good pitch for him, just tunneling-wise,” Olson said. “They kind of look the same, then split off opposite ways. … He was looking good.”
Olson wasn’t the only one, though. Other Braves, including pitching coach Rick Kranitz, were impressed with Anderson’s new approach. Austin Riley was among those who came away with compliments.
“You have to think about four pitches instead of three (when facing Anderson with the added slider). Now you’ve got different looks — you’ve got the curveball and the changeup, now you’re changing elevation, and you’re moving (the) opposite direction off the same elevation. It gets tough (as a hitter),” Riley said. “So, it’s good stuff. That’s encouraging. Very.”
Anderson is far too talented not to return to where he was before his 2022 campaign. Remember, this is a 24-year-old that owns an eye-popping 1.26 postseason ERA across eight starts. Since his debut in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he had accumulated a 3.25 ERA across 30 starts coming into last year. Last season could be considered an aberration.
Being an integral part of a World Series team and then posting a 5.40 ERA in the minor leagues would be a devastating blow to anyone’s confidence. It seems Ian Anderson has done the impossible and eliminated that season from his memory bank, even going as far as to say it will benefit him in the long run. Braves Spring Training is much different than the regular season, but I’m cautiously optimistic about Anderson’s future.
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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