Ian Anderson’s start derailed by Angels’ five-run frame


ATLANTA — Somewhere in the midst of Ian Anderson allowing five first-inning runs during a 9-1 loss to the Angels on Sunday afternoon, the Braves gained further reason to add a starting pitcher before the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline. 

Atlanta hasn’t shown many weaknesses while posting an MLB-best 35-12 record since the start of June. But there has always seemed to be a need to add a starter to provide insurance in the event that rookie right-hander Spencer Strider fatigues or Anderson continues to struggle.  

Anderson created some optimism before the All-Star break and then he erased some of it as he yielded eight hits and seven runs to the Angels over just three innings. The 24-year-old hurler has a 5.31 ERA through 19 starts and he has now lasted four innings or fewer in four of his past eight starts.  

“It’s been tough all season,” Anderson said. “I’m just not performing the way I would like to. It’s probably the worst stretch of baseball I’ve had in my life.” 

Max Fried, Kyle Wright and Charlie Morton give the Braves three solid frontline starters. But as the reigning World Series champions prepare to defend their title, the uncertainty surrounding Anderson and Strider seems to be enough to add another starter to at least serve as insurance down the stretch.

Having depleted their farm system to gain Matt Olson from the A’s in March, the Braves likely won’t be in the market for Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas, who are arguably the top two starters available before Aug. 2. Atlanta also doesn’t need another frontline starter.

The Reds’ Tyler Mahle and the D-backs’ Merrill Kelly seem to be more likely targets for the Braves. Enhancing the desire to add a starting pitcher is the fact that teams no longer have the option to make a waiver deal after the Trade Deadline passes. So, Aug. 2 will be the last opportunity for teams to externally satisfy needs or wants.

Atlanta’s only intriguing internal option is left-hander Kyle Muller, who has posted a 2.25 ERA over his past eight starts for Triple-A Gwinnett. Muller issued six walks over 2 2/3 innings during his only big league start this year. But if external help isn’t available, the Braves may need to decide whether to give Muller another chance or to give him more time to develop in uninterrupted fashion.

With some scheduled off-days approaching, the Braves may give Strider some extra rest or possibly skip a start. But they do not plan on placing an innings limit on the top rookie hurler, who is already within 20 innings of the total he collected during his first professional season in 2021.

While the Braves can manage Strider’s workload, it’s not as easy to determine how to best right Anderson, who has proven himself while producing a 1.26 ERA through his first eight career postseason starts.

“I’ve seen what he can do,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I’ve got a lot of faith in him.”

Anderson combined for six innings while making his final two June starts against the Dodgers and Phillies. He then quieted concerns by pitching effectively in his next three starts, one against the Cardinals and two against the Nationals.

But those concerns arose yet…



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