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MILWAUKEE – Tyler Anderson had a solid run of games during the same where he pitched his best baseball of the season, recording quality starts in eight of nine starts between June 7 and July 24. In July, he had a 2.16 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP.
When the calendar flipped to August, Anderson had a setback during a start in Milwaukee, giving up seven runs and lasting just four innings.
He rebounded in his next start against Los Angeles at home before being removed in the fifth and giving up nine runs to the World Champions Houston Astros.
Two starts later, he would surrender six runs and not make it out of the first inning.
When this bad stretch of starts would come to an end, Anderson would see his 3.57 ERA rise nearly a run-and-a-half over eights starts to finish the summer.
After four straight home starts that would fail to produce a single quality start – six innings pitched and three or less earned runs – Anderson would find himself in California with a pair of six inning outings that limited the Giants and Dodgers, respectively, to two runs apiece.
Anderson spoke about this challenging stretch of his season before his Game Two start against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I went through some struggles, but everyone does at some point or another. And for me, throughout my career, I’ve just struggled with injury so much, that during that month I was pitching really bad, but I was just happy that I was healthy, and I knew if I felt good and I stayed healthy and strong, I could find a way to fix it. So for me, as long as I’m feeling good, I’m okay with that.”
His start in Los Angeles produced shoulder soreness that would keep him out for his next scheduled start.
With the added rest Anderson would throw his best performance of the season, if not most important, securing a tie for first place in the NL West with the Dodgers, forcing a tiebreaker in Los Angeles.
“I was able to bounce back from some fatigue and some soreness that set it. It kind of locked me up, but I was able to bounce back and feel really good going into last Sunday. And since then, I’ve felt great, too, so I feel in a good spot.”
The big game victory secured not only a spot on the NLDS roster, but a trusted start in the five-game series from manager Bud Black.
“It means a lot. Buddy is a great guy. He’s an awesome manager and a good human being. He’s just really good at relating to players, and especially for starters and pitchers in general. So whenever you struggle, you’re not doing well, if something is going on, he has a good way to relate to you. Just for him to have faith in me or any of us is great.”
The trust in the 28-year-old Anderson and the entire pitching staff is one held by not just Black, but also by the team’s General Manager, Jeff Bridich.
“That’s one thing that Bridich and our entire farm system throughout has done a good job instilling belief in pitchers… He has faith in our guys coming up, and they did a great job of drafting a lot of guys, trading for some guys that have the mentality and the makeup that he wants.”
That confidence has also translated to the clubhouse, where the entire pitching staff has developed a belief in one another.
“You know, with the staff, everyone, we’re pretty close to the same ages. I think I’m the old guy actually. But everyone is pretty young, and we just have played together for a while now. Everyone wants everyone to do well. You want everyone to be at their best, and it’s always great to go out and see our guys — you see someone dominate, you just feed off it and the energy. And you’re so happy for them that you want to go out and do the same and keep it going for everybody else.”
Wednesday’s game won’t be Anderson’s first taste of playoff baseball.
In last year’s Wild Card Game, Anderson came in relief of starting pitcher Jon Gray, throwing only the third inning.
“You know, I didn’t throw a lot in that game last year, only threw one inning, but it’s just good to pitch in that environment. Really I think in our division, we pitch in a lot of places, like pitching in LA, you know, on some big games, or San Fran at times can get packed out. It’s just being able to control your nerves and stay calm and trust your ability and make pitches and stick to your game plan, I think, so it’ll help with that.”
Anderson spoke about the Game Two matchup with Milwaukee without tipping his hand as to an approach against the NL’s most winningest side.
“This team right now is hot. They have a good lineup. They’ve been good all year. Obviously that’s how they’re in this position. They have a lot of dangerous hitters. They have a lot of power, a lot of guys that can hit the ball out of the yard. With any lineup like that, obviously the game plan is to try to limit that power as much as you can.”
The hope is for Anderson to win another big game after another big loss as he did on Sunday to force game 163. If he can, the Rockies will come back to Coors Field and throw their two most dominant starters, German Marquez and Kyle Freeland, and possibly come away with a series win.
As Anderson reminds us, this has always been the dream.
“For me, it’s a great honor. I’m excited. My whole life I’ve wanted to be a big league pitcher. And then on top of that, when you get to the big leagues, you want to win a World Series. That is your dream. You go in the backyard, as a kid, you’re not dreaming of pitching a game in May at home. You’re thinking of pitching a game in the World Series.”