Ian Anderson has been one of the toughest pitchers to hit in his past two postseason runs, and the Braves rookie was in his best form Friday night.
In Game 3 of the World Series, he was back against the Astros as he did not allow a hit in five innings. He walked three and struck out four.
But the no-hit offer wasn’t enough to keep him in the game. Braves manager Brian Snitker picked it up for left-hander AJ Minter to start the top of the sixth, putting the no-no in the hands of his trusted relievers.
Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956 remains the only complete no-hitter in World Series history.
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“Obviously, you want to have a chance to compete and especially on the bigger stage like this, but I knew I wasn’t going to give in,” Anderson said after the game. “You have guys like [Tyler] Matzek and Minter and Luke [Jackson] and the will [Smith] in the backend entering. You can’t blame him for going with those guys. Those guys do it every now and then and they did it again tonight. “
Why was Anderson retired if he was pitching so well? Sporting News take a look.
Anderson could have been dealing, but with 76 pitches by the time he left, it was clear he wasn’t going to finish the game. And while the rookie hadn’t allowed hits, he wasn’t exactly filling the strike zone, as 37 of those 76 pitches were taken by a ball.
This is not the first time Anderson has risen early in the 2021 postseason. In Game 3 of the NLDS against the Brewers, he was eliminated after throwing 84 pitches in five scoreless innings. After that, he lasted three innings and 55 pitches against the Dodgers in NLCS Game 2 and 66 pitches in four innings against Los Angeles in Game 6.
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Anderson’s exits have not been without success. In seven career postseason appearances, he has a 1.47 ERA, including a 2.25 mark in his three starts this year. But the Braves have a lot of faith in their bullpen, particularly Minter and fellow southpaw Tyler Matzek, to deliver key late innings.
Had it been the end of the order to face Anderson in the sixth, he might have been able to stay in the game. But it was not. It was the top of the Astros’ vaunted lineup, and I’d see it for the third time.
Facing José Altuve, Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman would be an uphill task for any pitcher. While Altuve has been cold, he homered in Game 2 and is a consistently dangerous hitter. Brantley has burned the ball in the World Series with a 1,000 OPS. Bregman is hoping for his first hit this postseason, but he had a .777 OPS in the regular season.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said after the game that he felt Anderson had thrown a lot of pitches to the top of the order and that he didn’t want Anderson to have to go through them again.
“I thought in the fourth inning, he really had to work to get through that. He had a really good fifth inning. And then I said to him, because he was like, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’ But I was like, ‘Ian, I’m going with my gut here.’ And just my eyes, my gut. It would have been so easy to let it out, “Snitker said. “It could have backfired, I guess, but I thought at the time, in this game of this magnitude and everything that had done its job. And we had a bullpen that all the guys we used had two days off, and they were just going to launch one entry per piece. “
Then there are the numbers associated with Anderson facing a lineup for the third time. In 2021, hitters posted a .772 OPS against him the first time through the order, .520 the second time and .764 the third time.
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And the Astros have been very successful facing pitchers for the third time.
According to Stathead, the Astros posted a collective OPS of .812 in the regular season when facing pitchers for the third time in a game. Altuve was stellar as he posted an OPS of .856, while Bregman had a mark of .738 and Brantley posted an OPS of .690, by Stathead.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.