Written by: Jake Tweedie
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The first of 3 exciting prospect postseason debuts kicked off with NL ROY candidate Ian Anderson against the Cincinnati Reds.
Game 1 of the Reds and Braves saw a grueling 13-inning game, showcasing some masterful pitching from starters Trevor Bauer and Max Fried, thus leaving Game 2 in the hands of Luis Castillo and Ian Anderson. Although the Reds had a poor BA entering the game, their offensive ability cannot be questioned and this made it a potentially tough outing for him.
Anderson had previously been touched upon as an honorable mention in our previous article on NL ROY candidates (found here) and made a further 4 appearances in the regular season, posting an overall ERA of 1.95 and picking up 41 SOs in 32.1 innings.
As mentioned before, his stuff isn’t standout but his control and the way he manipulates his velocity has allowed him to become more dangerous as he gains a better understanding of the game and dealing with higher pressure situations.
If there was a test to see how far Anderson has developed this season, then this game was perfect for him, and he passed with flying colors.
Let’s take a more detailed look into his pitching and we see why he had such an impressive post season debut. Below are breakdowns of his pitching arsenal and their locations, as well as a general overview of his pitch location. As seen by the first image, he worked the zone to great effect. This was much better and more controlled than his previous outing, a loss against the Marlins.
If we compare this chart to the one against the Marlins there is a significant difference in how controlled he was and his general pitch location. As seen by his chart below, the pitches are spread out far too much and allowed him to be hit 7 times whilst his pitches above show a more condensed grouping, thus allowing his control to shine through.
With the reliance on his 4-seam fastball, he had to ensure that it was controlled and he showcased his command over the pitch. Used 45% of the time, he averaged 94.5mph and whiffed 7 of the total 20 swings at the pitch. This percentage of 35% is significantly higher than his previous outing of just 11%. This would be because of him utilizing the whole strike zone and the surrounding areas, and not being hung up in the middle of the zone.
This impressive use of his fastball led nicely into his control and command of his changeup.
As seen by the video above, and the image below, there was some movement on his breaking ball that had the Reds’ hitters all ends up. They whiffed at 44% of their swings, as he set up his changeup perfectly with the fastball. He didn’t overuse his pitch and focused on coming down and away from the hitters.
His last part of his pitching arsenal, and the pitch that impressed me the most, was his curveball. There wasn’t a great use of it against the Marlins in his last regular-season start but he used it to great effect against the Reds and increased the amount he used. This figure rose from 16% to 26%, and with the way he controlled it, it’s easy to see why there was an increase in use.
Averaging at 79.7mph, there was a whopping 10 called strikes on his curveball, the highest of all 3 of his pitching arsenal. There seemed to be plenty of practice on this pitch since the last time I saw him, and even the pitches that were high in the zone were controlled as hitters did not expect them yet he had the confidence to try it.
This is a beautiful example of his high CB. Despite it being up in the zone, there is no chance the hitter can make contact due to the way it drops into the zone last minute and deceives the hitters with its location.
There was plenty of buzz about Anderson’s debut, and my goodness did he showcase his brilliance. He was a late entry into the NL ROY race, but with more performances like his postseason debut, then he can’t be overlooked too much. He seems to have grown in stature and developed himself into a more mature pitcher that doesn’t throw all around the zone but pitches with precision and to great effect.
There has been the importance of facing the likes of the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Nationals, and the Mets which has allowed him to develop at a quick rate, and he knows he had to pitch well or he would be punished by such impressive hitting line-ups. He took this mentality into the game against the Reds and shut them down.
Here’s hoping he continues his run into the NLDS when the braves take on the winner of the Marlins and Cubs series. And he could be end up taking the NL ROY home late this year as well if he can beat out some other likely winners. Incredible Rookie season so far for Ian Anderson.
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