Early on Sunday afternoon, it became clear Ian Anderson would not be at his best.
He struggled to find his way and the Braves (2-2) eventually dropped the series finale against the Reds, 6-3, on Sunday at Truist Park. Here are five observations from the loss:
1. Anderson eclipsed 40 pitches in the second inning and 70 in the third. His command issues defined his rough start.
Anderson, who was charged with five runs over 2 ⅔ innings, issued five walks for the third time in his career. The others: He did it against the Marlins last July and versus the Dodgers in the 2020 NLCS. (He still held the Dodgers scoreless over four innings).
In two of five at-bats that ended with walks Sunday, Anderson got to 1-2 against the opposing batter. He just couldn’t put them away.
“I felt like I was battling myself all day,” Anderson said.
2. Matt Olson narrowly missed his first home run in a Braves uniform earlier in this series.
There was no way Sunday’s ball could stay in the yard, though.
Facing the Reds’ Hunter Greene, who made his MLB debut on Sunday, Olson launched a 417-foot solo homer that left his bat at 110.8 mph, according to Baseball Savant. It had a lot of steam before it hit the bat: Greene fired a 101-mph fastball toward Olson.
Olson is only one of two Braves players to hit a 101-mph pitch for a home run since Baseball Savant began tracking this (2008). The other was Eddie Rosario, who hit Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol’s 101-mph pitch last season.
Olson, who collected three hits Sunday, has recorded multiple hits in three straight games.
3. Anderson and the Braves believe there’s a reason the righty wasn’t sharp: He hasn’t pitched much this spring.
Anderson only threw eight innings during spring training. He left his final spring outing early because of a blister on his toe.
In his latest start, Anderson unraveled in the third. Three of his five walks came in the inning.
In a 1-0 game, he almost rolled a double-play ball, but the Reds’ Nick Senzel beat the throw to first. Colin Moran hit a run-scoring single, which ended Anderson’s day.
Anderson couldn’t make the necessary in-game adjustments.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” he said. “I wanted to be able to make the adjustment quick, but I wasn’t able to.”
Added Braves manager Brian Snitker: “He’s going to get better as he goes. He’s going to get his rhythm and all that. And then when he does that, his command will be better.”
4. Collin McHugh, who grew up a Braves fan, had a rough opening day as he served up a three-run home run. He bounced back nicely Sunday, with 2⅓ clean innings.
McHugh struck out five of seven batters he faced to help keep the Braves in the game.
5. The Braves scored 15 runs over four games against the Reds. Their offense performed well and probably better than the numbers would indicate.
“We’ve hit some balls really good,” Snitker said. “Offensively, we could’ve scored a lot more runs.”
It seemed like the Braves hit more than a handful of balls to the warning track. In a couple months, those could be home runs.
The Braves’ lineup looks to be on track.
Reds 6, Braves 3 (box score)
Stat to know
39-Of Anderson’s 74 pitches on Sunday, only 39 were strikes.
“I think there’s a lot more positives to build on than the other.” Snitker on his team’s first series
The Braves on Monday begin a three-game series with the Nationals. Right-hander Huascar Ynoa takes the mound for Atlanta.