Atlanta Braves rookie pitcher Ian Anderson proved that how you start is as important as how you finish.
Anderson, a 2016 Shenendehowa High School graduate, pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings in the Braves’ 2-0 National League Division Series win Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park in Houston against the Miami Marlins. Anderson struck out eight Marlins, allowed three hits and walked one.
It was the second postseason victory for the No. 3 overall pick of the Braves back in 2016.
“It doesn’t seem like the moment ever matters to him. He just keeps pitching and trusting his stuff,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said during the postgame Zoom press conference. “I thought the ball was coming out of his hand really good, too. They didn’t have really good swings at him. There is a lot to worry about with this kid when he’s facing you.”
Anderson has notched 17 strikeouts without giving up a run in both of his postseason starts. Anderson earned a 5-0 win Oct. 1 against the Cincinnati Reds to close out the National League Wild-Card Series.
“I definitely think I had more nerves today,” Anderson said. “I don’t know if it was the different site and seeing all the playoff stuff around the stadium. It definitely helped getting a couple of guys on and getting out of that, and feeling a little bit more comfortable.”
Following Anderson’s departure, the bullpen quartet of Darren O’Day, Tyler Matzek, Will Smith and Mark Melancon held the Marlins scoreless as the Braves moved to a 2-0 lead against the Marlins in their best-of-five series.
Anderson proved his mettle in the first inning, striking out the first two batters before giving up a single to Jesus Aguilar to right field and then walking Brian Anderson. He escaped the inning when Garrett Cooper flew out to right.
Anderson produced 1-2-3 innings in the second and third, faced four batters in the fourth, then had another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. After allowing a one-out hit in the sixth inning, Anderson won a 10-pitch encounter with Jesus Aguilar to close his day. With the speedy Jon Berti on first after a single, Aguilar fouled off six pitches from Anderson, keeping the count at 2-2, before the lanky right-hander fanned him swinging with a change-up.
“I think I kind of expanded all the tricks I had to get him,” Anderson said. “He’s pretty pesky when it comes to two strikes. I knew what my best pitch was going into the at-bat, but getting there was definitely tough.”
Snitker then made the call to the bullpen to remove Anderson.
“If he had had an easy out with Aguilar, I probably would have let him go,” Snitker said. “I think it was a 10-pitch at-bat. I just kind of felt like [Brian] Anderson is extremely dangerous, and he had some good swings off of him. I just kind of felt at that point that he had emptied the tank.”
The Braves bullpen did the rest, preserved the lead and the win for the rookie.
Anderson credited his catcher Travis d’Arnaud for being a big part of his success.
“I can’t say enough about how good Travis has been back there in these first two games of my postseason career,” Anderson said.