Braves’ Game 2 starter faces Marlins for third time in young career

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Braves rookie pitcher Ian Anderson discusses facing the Marlins a third time this season as starter in Game 2 of the NLDS.

The Braves' Ian Anderson will start his eighth big-league game Wednesday afternoon, his third against the Miami Marlins. This start, in Game 2 of a National League Division Series, comes exactly one month after the shortest stint of Anderson’s young career, a Sept. 7 game against the Marlins in which he lasted only three innings.

Anderson expended 83 pitches to get nine outs that day. He allowed two runs, two hits and four walks, and he committed a costly throwing error that seemed to rattle him.

After the game, Braves manager Brian Snitker said the experience would be a “learning moment” for the 22-year-old rookie pitcher.

“I think it definitely was,” Anderson said Tuesday. "You learn that you just have to find a way to get through those tough situations and limit your pitch count, keep the team in the game and go as deep as you can.

“I made that error, and the pitch count kind of started escalating a little bit. That’s something you just have to learn and try to fix.”

Despite the difficulties, Anderson did keep his team in the game – the Braves eventually lost 5-4 in 10 innings – but he was most disappointed by providing only three innings of work.

He pitched against the Marlins again Sept. 24, that time going 5-2/3 innings despite uncharacteristic breakdowns by the Braves' defense. He held the Marlins scoreless through five innings before allowing three unearned runs in the sixth. The Braves committed four errors behind him in that game, a 4-2 loss.

“I’ve pitched against the Marlins a couple of times now, so I’ve got a good idea of what they’re trying to do and how I can use my strengths to kind of combat that,” Anderson said Tuesday. “That’s been kind of the biggest thing, just seeing how everything matches up and making sure I’m prepared going in.”

Anderson had a 1.04 ERA across the two regular-season starts against the Marlins because four of the five runs scored against him in 8-2/3 innings were unearned.

Now, he prepares to face Miami for a third time, this time on the bigger stage of a second-round playoff series.

“It’s a lineup that presents some different challenges than some of the other ones we have faced‚” he said. "Compared to Cincinnati (the Braves’ opponent in a first-round series last week), they’re completely on the other side of the spectrum.

“They’ve got some guys that like to run; you don’t see that too much anymore nowadays in today’s game. They’ve got a lot of speed. Just getting guys on base is huge for them.”

Anderson made six regular-season starts after being promoted from the Braves' alternate training site Aug. 25, about halfway through the shortened 60-game schedule. His final regular-season credentials: 3-2 record, 1.95 ERA, .172 opponents' batting average, 41 strikeouts (14 walks) in 32-1/3 innings.

He started Game 2 of last week’s playoff series against the Reds, allowing just two singles in six scoreless innings. His fastball, which he mixed superbly with change-ups and curveballs, topped out at 97 mph. He seemed fully in command in his postseason debut and now seeks to build on that.

“I feel good going in,” Anderson said. “This being my second (postseason start), I have a little bit more confidence, and I’ll be a little bit more comfortable going in.”

The Marlins' starting pitcher for Game 2 is 24-year-old righthander Pablo Lopez. He was 6-4 with a 3.61 ERA in 11 starts this season, including mixed results in three starts against the Braves. He held them to two runs in six innings Aug. 14 and to no runs in five innings Sept. 24 (when Anderson was the opposing starter). But on Sept. 9, in a game the Braves would win 29-9, Lopez allowed seven runs in 1-2/3 innings.

About the Author