“Honestly, that’s the hardest, is just accepting that I’m going to go down here and I’m going to figure this out. The easy way is to just kind of go in a hole and start complaining, like, ‘Why this? Why me?’ Because I did that at times. When I finally got out of that trap, that’s when I feel like I truly got back to myself and that’s kind of what happened last year, and was able to kind of figure myself out and get back to who I was.”
Of course, nothing makes this easier for Anderson, the 24-year-old who has experienced so much success, including in the postseason, through his first few seasons in the majors. On Sunday morning, Braves manager Brian Snitker delivered the difficult news to Anderson, with a message: “We need to get you right.” The Braves needed length on Sunday, so they brought up right-hander Huascar Ynoa to take Anderson’s place. Anderson is scheduled to be the 27th man and start a game in Saturday’s doubleheader in Miami.
But there’s no denying the obvious: Anderson has not pitched well. He posted a 5.11 ERA over 21 starts, with a 1.543 WHIP. In Friday’s Braves win, the offense spotted Anderson an eight-run lead, but he still allowed four earned runs over 4 ⅓ innings.
“It’s tough,” Anderson said of the move.
He understands the Braves needed length. He knows he had options, which, combined with his performance, made him a candidate for something like this. Plus, Anderson said the Braves made it clear he’s still in their plans.
“They think I’m a big part of this, too,” he said. “That was kind of some of the other motivation, is to get back to what I know I can be and what they know as well.”
The Braves also brought up catcher Chadwick Tromp because Travis d’Arnaud is dealing with lower right leg soreness after a play at the plate in Saturday night’s game. Atlanta also optioned backup outfielder Guillermo Heredia.
Wright spent much of last season at Triple-A. Reliever A.J. Minter also went to Triple-A last season and has been much better because of it. Thus, the Braves told Anderson he’s still part of their future and that they need him to accomplish what they want to this season.
“They made that part pretty clear,” Anderson said. “Now it’s just kind of about getting confidence back and figuring some things out.”
Added Snitker: “There’s just some things to work out. I’ve said many times: This kid’s come really fast. He’s experienced a lot in his young major-league career, but he’s not a finished product yet. He’s done really well. He’s pitched in a lot of games that guys play their entire career (for) and never get to feel.”
Over eight postseason starts in his young career, Anderson, who debuted in 2020, has a 1.26 ERA. Five of those starts were scoreless outings. He’s pitched in the biggest moments, like in last year’s World Series or in Game 7 of the 2020 NLCS.
Asked if he was surprised at being optioned, Anderson said: “No. I mean, I think you look at the way the last two days, three days played out. Just kind of one of those business things that happens. Going to hopefully go down there and figure some things out and be right back.”
Anderson has succeeded at this level, and the thought is he will do so again. He said he wants to get back to attacking and throwing strikes, which frees him up, during his time in the minors. He hasn’t pitched in the minors since 2019, save for four rehab appearances at Triple-A last season.
Anderson has allowed four or more earned runs in nine of 21 big-league starts this season. That includes two seven-run outings. He has walked four or more batters in six starts this season. He hasn’t consistently commanded his pitches and has often walked the tightrope in his starts.
“Even in the games that he’s struggled in this year, he still looks under control, still looks fine,” Wright said. “You can just tell something’s just a little bit off, to where he’s not quite himself. He’s going to be calm, he’s not going to panic and he never has. I expect him to use that to his advantage, and we’ll be able to definitely kind of get back to who he is sooner than later. "
When Wright spoke to Anderson on Sunday morning, he came away thinking Anderson would take the demotion and use it to his advantage. Wright said Anderson is mature and “just looks at things from a good perspective, from an outsider’s perspective instead of just falling into that shell” that Wright went into when he’d been sent down in the past.
“We know how talented he is,” Wright said. “He’s going to be back up here, and he’s going to be helping us win a lot of games. He was obviously a huge part of what we did last year, so I think we can’t forget that, either, that he’s still a really good pitcher and he’s going to be for us for a long time.”
Ronald Acuña scratched from Sunday’s starting lineup
Ronald Acuña was initially in the Braves’ lineup for Sunday’s series finale. He became a late scratch due to lower body soreness.
It was a precautionary move. The rain – it poured before Sunday’s game, delaying it by 20 minutes – had a large part to do with it. Acuña was expected to be available off the bench.
The outfielder has looked like himself over the last few days.
The plan for Travis d’Arnaud
D’Arnaud was in a walking boot Sunday. He’s using it to stabilize his right leg, Snitker said, so he doesn’t put any pressure on it.
D’Arnaud is just banged up, Snitker said. The X-rays on his lower right leg were negative.
“Everything checked out good,” Snitker said. “He’s just really sore. I think he’s better today than he was last night when he left.”
The Braves have off days on Monday and Thursday, and games in Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday. They plan to start backup catcher William Contreras, an All-Star for his bat, in the games against the Red Sox.
This way, d’Arnaud will get five days off – including Sunday’s finale in New York – before the Braves open a series in Miami. Atlanta believes d’Arnaud will be ready for those three games against the Marlins.
Tromp, who was in big-league camp with the Braves, has hit .259 with a .754 OPS in Triple-A this year. He has 12 homers and 41 RBIs. He has spent limited time in the bigs.
“Reports are really good on him,” Snitker said. “He’s been in the big leagues before. He’s a high-energy guy. Really liked him in spring training, just the person and what he did. … He’s been up here. It’s not going to be too big for him.”
A long time in the game
On Tuesday in Boston, 38-year-old Charlie Morton will face 42-year-old Rich Hill. You don’t see something like this often.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for all those guys that play and play at this level for a long time,” Snitker said. “It’s like the guy that threw against us last night (Max Scherzer) – he’s getting better. He’s 38 years old and getting better. It’s amazing, the guys like that, (like Houston’s) Justin Verlander. That’s why they’re Hall of Famers. They just keep adding. I have so much respect for guys like that – and Charlie – who have played so long and how they do it. It’s pretty neat.”