Braves notes: Ian Anderson on track; perspective on team’s start to the season; Murphy gets off day

Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson delivers to a Miami Marlins batter during the first inning at Truist Park Friday, May 27, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson delivers to a Miami Marlins batter during the first inning at Truist Park Friday, May 27, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

PITTSBURGH — Over the offseason, Braves president of baseball operations and general manager Alex Anthopoulos pointed to June as a target month for Ian Anderson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2023, to begin a rehab assignment.

June is approaching. And at this moment, the Braves have struggled to fill that final spot in their rotation. Their depth has been tested, but they could have another option from which to choose this summer.

Anderson is on track with his rehab. Any specific date for him to begin a rehab assignment is unknown, but it is good news that he’s still in line with what the Braves initially targeted for him.

The lack of any other substantial update with Anderson could be a positive. A Tommy John recovery can come with setbacks, so it’s nice to know Anderson is on track with his process.

This lines up with what he said in spring training. In North Port, Florida, Anderson seemed optimistic about his rehab process.

In February, Anderson was asked when he might pitch for the Braves again.

“I don’t want to put like a strict date on it because that just puts some expectations out there,” Anderson said. “But hopefully sometime middle of the summer I’m back (on the mound) and then pitching in games, and one thing leads to another.”

The Braves selected Anderson with the third overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft. He debuted in 2020, and eventually pitched to a 1.26 ERA over 35-2/3 innings across eight postseason starts between 2020 and 2021. In Game 3 of the 2021 World Series, he hurled five scoreless frames against Houston.

As he battled for a rotation spot during spring training in 2023, Anderson fought through elbow pain.

“Me being that maybe in the competitor that I am, I thought I could pitch through it,” Anderson said. “I thought I was still good enough to compete for a spot. Once things kind of folded out the way they did, I felt like it was probably the time to bring it up and say something.

“I’m glad I did. It was definitely wearing on me a little bit mentally, just kind of how quickly everything kind of switched. I knew I wasn’t myself.”

That was then, and this is now.

Anderson is past that and, if everything continues to go well, it seems he still could return to a big-league mound at some point this summer.

Murphy off on Saturday

After catching nine innings on Friday, Sean Murphy (left oblique strain) was given the day off on Saturday. He’s expected to be the designated hitter on Sunday.

It sounds like Murphy is getting close to returning. He’s doing everything well.

“It seems to be good, yeah,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I would hope that when we get back off this road trip, he’s ready to go.”

In three rehab games thus far, Murphy is 5-for-14 with two home runs and four RBIs.

Short gets the start against a right-hander

The Braves on Friday signed Joey Wendle, a left-handed complement to Zack Short. But for Saturday’s game versus right-hander Mitch Keller, Braves manager Brian Snitker opted for right-handed Zack Short instead of Wendle.

Since Austin Riley departed the game early May 12, Short has started at third base in 10 of the team’s 11 games. Luke Williams got the start Thursday in Chicago, but the Braves optioned him Friday when they signed Wendle.

“Joey’s been off for 10 days,” Snitker said. “We wanted him to get in and work out a little bit. He’s been home. Just the inactivity, pretty much, is the reason for that now.”

The Mets designated Wendle for assignment on May 15.

Riley seems unlikely to return until at some point during the team’s next homestand, which begins Monday versus the Nationals.

Some perspective on this start

Friday’s loss was ugly. The Braves have had other clunkers this season.

They aren’t playing up to their capability.

Here’s some perspective that should hopefully help Braves fans breathe a bit: The Braves still entered Saturday 10 games above .500. They had the seventh-best record in baseball.

And after this weekend, the Braves play eight games against the Nationals over the next two weeks, and three against Oakland. They can gain ground on the Phillies, who entered Saturday with a six-game lead in the National League East.