Atlanta pitcher Ian Anderson might be trying to hang on to his spot in the starting rotation when he faces the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night.
Anderson (8-6, 5.31 ERA) will be opposed by Diamondbacks right-hander Corbin Martin (0-0, 3.93) in the second game of the three-game series.
Atlanta won the first game 5-2 on Friday to even the season series at 2-2.
Anderson has been a solid piece of the Atlanta rotation since being called up as a rookie in 2020. But the right-hander has allowed seven runs in two of his past five starts, including the most recent outing against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Since June 30, Anderson has allowed 18 runs in 20 2/3 innings, a 7.83 ERA. And he has reached the sixth inning in just two of his past six 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.”
Another poor outing might cause the Braves to intensify their search for another starter before the trade deadline. The club might even send Anderson to Triple-A Gwinnett to sort things out.
But Atlanta manager Brian Snitker isn’t ready to give up on Anderson, the team’s No. 1 draft pick in 2016. Anderson has been a money pitcher, compiling a 1.26 ERA in eight postseason starts.
“I’ve seen what he can do,” Snitker said. “I’ve got a lot of faith in him.”
Anderson won his only career start against Arizona, beating the Diamondbacks on Sept. 22, 2021, by allowing one run over seven innings.
Martin’s hold on a spot in his team’s rotation also is tenuous. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo did not immediately commit to giving Martin another opportunity after his outing last Sunday against the Washington Nationals. He was recalled from Triple-A Reno before the game and allowed one run in four innings but gave up four hits and five walks.
“We’ve seen him struggle with his command,” Lovullo said. “I mostly think that he’s putting himself in a very, very tough situation where margins are very small on each side of the plate when he’s in fastball counts. I think being able to throw secondary stuff is going to create a lot of space for him to go out and do what he needs to do.”
Martin was a key piece of the 2019 trade with Houston that sent Zack Greinke to the Astros. Martin missed the 2020 season with Tommy John surgery and struggled to regain his form in 2021. He will make his first career appearance against the Braves.
Arizona catcher Carson Kelly had another hit on Friday. In July, Kelly is batting .362 (21-for-58) with six doubles, four homers and 10 RBIs. He has raised his batting average from .129 at the start of the month to .219.
Atlanta third baseman Austin Riley, who had his 18-game hitting streak end on Wednesday, went 3-for-4 on Friday and lifted his average to .299. Riley hit his 29th homer and added two doubles, giving him 29 this year.
In July, Riley is batting .427 (41-for-96) with 13 doubles, 11 homers and 24 RBIs.
–Field Level Media