Ian Anderson has been a revelation for the Braves this season, providing much-needed stability in a thin rotation despite having no major league experience prior to his debut on August 26th. Atlanta will likely lean on Anderson in playoffs next week, and this start against the Marlins will his last opportunity for a tune-up prior to the stakes being raised.
Anderson features three offerings: fastball, curveball, and changeup. All three pitches have been wildly effective, with all three producing opponent xwOBA under .275. The entire profile for Anderson thus far has been incredible, especially when perusing his peripherals. Limiting hard contact, missing bats, and limiting walks have been paramount for Anderson, whose 2.36 ERA is supported by a 2.45 xERA. Opponents have managed just a 1.7% barrel rate thus far, which is among the best in baseball, albeit in a small sample size.
Opposing Anderson will be Pablo Lopez, who has had an impressive season in his own right. The right-hander owns a 3.96 ERA, but just a 3.36 xERA and his opponent exit velocity is among the lowest 10% in baseball. This success is due in large part to a very wide array of offerings that includes a fastball and changeup that are each utilized on around 30% of pitches. Trusting his offspeed pitches is a staple for Lopez, who also owns an impressive .295 xwOBA against this season. The mighty Braves offense will be tested, though they absolutely blasted the right-hander just two weeks, sending him packing after scoring seven runs in 12⁄3 innings. The club has to hope that a similar beating can be administered on Thursday in Atlanta.
Atlanta has already clinched a top-three seed in the playoffs, but they are still fighting to lock down the second seed. The plan for Anderson will be interesting, as the Braves will want to be cautious with their right-hander this close to the playoffs, especially after the Fried injury.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, September 24, 7:10 p.m. EST
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network