The battle for the Braves’ fifth spot in the rotation will be fierce. Atlanta will have four major league caliber arms competing for just one spot — Ian Anderson, Mike Soroka, Bryce Elder, and Kolby Allard.
The club’s starting rotation is one of the deepest in baseball, and Braves Country can expect to see every single one of these players have some outings over the course of the season due to injuries.
Allard was acquired in a trade that sent Jake Odorizzi to the Rangers, and he’s considered a high-upside piece to the organization. Elder is a back-of-the-rotation guy who impressed in 2022, posting a 3.17 ERA and 3.78 FIP through 54 innings. Soroka dazzled as a rookie, throwing 174.2 innings of 2.68 ERA ball, and Alex Anthopoulos believes he will be a ‘stud’ again. Finally, you have Anderson, who is the favorite to win the final spot in the rotation.
Since being drafted in the first round, Ian Anderson hasn’t experienced many failures. He rose through the farm rapidly and made his debut in 2020. Throughout the next two seasons, Anderson established himself in Atlanta’s rotation and became heralded for his ice cold performances when the lights were brightest, owning a 1.26 ERA over 35.2 postseason innings. He was a critical piece to the Braves World Series run, and expectations were sky high entering last season.
It couldn’t have gone worse. Anderson was clobbered in each outing, posting a 5.00 ERA over 22 starts before the Braves demoted him during a series versus the Mets in August. By September, he hadn’t improved in AAA and would eventually be sidelined by an oblique strain, ending a nightmare season.
Anderson took the offseason head on. It was well documented he spent time in the Wake Forest Pitching Lab, which is world renowned. And there have been tangible results from the data. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Justin Toscano, Ian Anderson made multiple mechanical changes, cleaning up his delivery and his posture.
I’m more confident in him than most, because he’s just too talented not to figure things out. Developing a third offering should go a long way with his mechanical adjustments. Not only is he physically ready for a bounce-back campaign, but Ian Anderson is also mentally ready.