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

ATLANTA – In the midst of allowing Ian Anderson five in the first innings during a 9-1 loss to the Angels on Sunday afternoon, the Braves gained further reason to add a starting pitcher ahead of the August 2 trade deadline.

Atlanta hasn’t shown many weaknesses, posting an MLB-best 35-12 record since early June. But there has always been a need to add a starter to provide insurance if rookie right-hander Spencer Strider fatigues or Anderson continues to struggle.

Anderson generated some optimism before the All-Star break and then he erased some of it as he conceded eight hits and seven runs to the Angels in just three innings. The 24-year-old Hurler has 5.31 ERAs through 19 starts and has now lasted four innings or fewer in four of his last eight.

“It’s been tough the whole season,” Anderson said. “I’m just not performing the way I want to. This is probably the worst stretch of baseball in my life. ,

Max Fried, Kyle Wright and Charlie Morton gave the Braves three solid front lines. But as the defending World Series champions prepare to defend their title, the uncertainty surrounding Anderson and Strider is enough to add another starter to serve as insurance, at least under the stretch.

After dismantling their farming system to gain an A to Matt Olsson in March, the Braves likely won’t be in the market for either Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas, who are arguably the top two starters available before August 2. Atlanta doesn’t even need another frontline starter.

The Reds’ Tyler Mahle and D-Backs Meryl Kelly appear to be more likely targets for the Braves. Adding to the desire to add a starting pitcher is the fact that teams do not have the option of bargaining a discount once the trade deadline has passed. Therefore, August 2 will be the last opportunity for teams to address needs or wants externally.

Atlanta’s only interesting internal option is left-hander Kyle Mueller, who has posted a 2.25 ERA in his last eight games for Triple-A Gwynet. Muller released six walks in 2 2/3 innings during his only major league debut this year. But if outside help isn’t available, the Braves may need to decide whether to give Mueller another chance or give him more time to grow uninterrupted.

With some scheduled off-days approaching, the brave can give the strider some extra rest or possibly skip a start. But they do not plan to place 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 correct Anderson, who has proven himself, producing a 1.26 ERA through his first eight career postseasons.

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

Anderson combined for six innings in his final June 2 debut against the Dodgers and the Phillies. He then quelled concerns by pitching effectively in his next three starts, one against the Cardinals and two against the Nationals.

But those concerns resurfaced as he allowed five straight one-out hits, including Taylor Ward’s home run, during the first five runs on Sunday.

Anderson has posted a 6.62 ERA in his last eight starts, producing an 18.2 percent strike rate and 12.9 percent walk rate. He entered the segment and posted a 4.53 ERA, while a 19.6 percent strikeout rate and a 10.2 percent walk rate during his first 11 starts of the season.

Even as Anderson was approaching mediocre levels during the first two months of the season, he was not as effective in 2021, when he scored a 3.58 ERA with a 23.2 percent strike rate and a 9.9 percent walk rate. produced. Opponents have matched .355 on-base percentage against him this year, easily trailing the .300 OBP who surrendered last year.

Anderson entered the All-Star break feeling good about the adjustments he had made to improve his fastball. But he did not suffer a single blow with any of the 41 four-seamers he had thrown against the Angels. Opponents entered Saturday against this pitch with an expected batting average of .318.288. Last year, he hit .216 with .242 XBA against it.

“I know I’m not [a finished] product,” Anderson said. “I have a long way to go.”

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