If nothing else, Ian Anderson has established himself as a dominant postseason pitcher. He has ice in his veins and no moment is too big for this young gun. His World Series game 3 no-hitter was nothing short of phenomenal, even if it was only for 5 innings (I think I would’ve let him keep going, but it was refreshing to see Snit lean into the new school methodology). Through 8 career postseason starts now Anderson holds a 1.26 ERA in 35.2 IP. It would be great to see him go further into games, but even in the regular season he hasn’t been that guy just yet.
Anderson really settled into his role as the Braves #3 starter and flashed his upside throughout the campaign. He started 24 games, throwing 128.1 innings, both of which were 4x his 2020 totals. His 3.58 ERA was a far cry from 2020s 1.95, but nobody was expecting him to repeat that. Interestingly enough, all of Anderson’s pitches took a step forward in terms of average velocity, but his overall advanced metrics all regressed from elite to more around league average. The biggest alarm for me was that Anderson’s minor league HR/9 total of 0.37 was one of his biggest assets, but he posted a 1.1 figure in 2021. This was severely raised by a 2.4 HR/9 in his final 5 starts of the year. Something just seemed off when he returned from his brief stint on the IL, but he left it all in the past come the postseason.
The Braves have only lost 1 of Anderson’s 8 career postseason starts, winning all 4 in 2021. Anderson has allowed just 1 HR with the aforementioned 1.26 ERA and has carried a K/9 just north of 10 through his 35.2 postseason innings. At just 23 years old and already has more postseason success than some 20-year veterans, and with the state of the Braves he looks primed to get plenty more opportunities in the near future.
It’s no secret Anderson needs to find a way to go deeper into games. I think a full season of starts and the training that came along with it under his belt will help him grow and become a more efficient pitcher. Fangraphs has him projected for 166 IP in 29 starts, which would be a bit shy of 6 innings per start, much better than the 5.1 he’s averaged thus far in his career. Anderson’s stuff is undeniable, if he continues to hone his craft and build on his control and efficiency, there’s no reason he can’t be a top of the rotation guy. Don’t be surprised if he ends up wiggling his way into the Cy Young conversation, after placing in the top 7 in rookie of the year voting in both 2020 and 2021. Expect Anderson to build on last year and finish with roughly 3-4 WAR in another full season as the Braves #3 starter.