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The Unfortunate Story of Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson Braves

Ian Anderson Braves
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Unfortunate Story of Ian Anderson

Atlanta Braves right-handed pitcher Ian Anderson is going to undergo Tommy John surgery, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. He’ll miss the rest of the 2023 season.

Anderson, 25, has had a pitching career that one can only describe as bizarre. Anderson entered the league in 2020, the covid-shortened 60-game season. He was one of the Braves’ best pitchers, only giving up seven runs in six starts, finishing No. 7 in NL Rookie of The Year standings.

Heading into his first full big league season in 2021, Anderson was accompanied by Mike Soroka and Max Fried, in what looked to be a potent Braves rotation. Anderson was solid, sporting a 3.58 ERA in 24 starts, and an ERA+ of 121 (100 is the league average).

Climbing The Mountain:

The 2021 postseason was when Anderson became a phenom on the world stage. He was one of the Braves’ best arms during their World Series run, pitching in 17 innings in the postseason. Anderson only allowed a total of three runs and four hits, good for a sub-one WHIP. He was projected to be one of the best pitchers for Atlanta in 2022 and beyond.

But Anderson wasn’t the same thereafter. In his first start of the 2022 season, he walked five batters, one of the worst starts of his career up to that point and it set the tone for the rest of the season.

Anderson would go on to pitch to a 5.00 ERA with an 82 ERA+. The Braves ran out of patience, sending him down to the minor leagues several times throughout the season, making only two starts in the month of August.

More Of The Same:

This year could have been a revitalization season for Anderson. He lost a position in the rotation to Bryce Elder, and was sent back down to the minor leagues after a bad spring. He made one start for Triple-A Gwinnett, giving up four runs and four hits. Now, with a torn UCL, Anderson will sit the year out.

Anderson’s story is an upsetting tale of what could go wrong. Maybe Anderson was really bugged by the shoulder injury. Who knows how long he’s had a damaged UCL? He could have been pitching through injury in Spring Training as well.

It’s next to impossible to tell why Anderson took such a deep step back. He was on top of the world during the 2021 postseason, and it all came crashing down. I think injuries had a bigger role than some think.

The good news for Anderson is that he can take the 2023 season to reflect, and really get away from pitching. Sometimes that’s the best thing for a player. Maybe his relationship with the Braves is coming to an end soon. He’s an unrestricted free agent in 2027, but the Braves might get more out of a trade for him before then. Who knows, maybe he stays put. Stranger things have happened.

A pitcher who is having a semi-similar career to Anderson is Soroka, who had an incredible 2019 but has failed to stay on the field since 2020 with several injuries.

I don’t believe the book is closed on Ian Anderson’s career just yet. We’ll see how it goes when Anderson returns.


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