Brewers LHP Brett Anderson is nearing his return from the injured list. What will his role be and how might it affect the team’s starting rotation?
With roughly a week left in Summer Camp, the Brewers starting rotation was starting to take shape for the regular season. That was before left-handed starting pitcher Brett Anderson ended up suffering an injury that suddenly put it in flux again.
Anderson was one of two Brewers pitchers to hit the injured list right as Summer Camp was about to break, though expectations were that he would not have to spend much time there. It turns out that prognosis might turn out to be right.
“Pretty good chance” Brett Anderson is ready to pitch the first day he’s eligible to come off the IL, Craig Counsell said. That would be Friday’s home opener.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) July 27, 2020
If things were to follow the same pattern that the Brewers have used so far this year, Friday’s start would currently set up to belong to Corbin Burnes. So how does Anderson end up factoring into the starting rotation’s equation?
Where did we last leave Anderson?
Anderson last pitched in the second scrimmage of the Brewers Blue-Gold World Series, pitching opposite of Corbin Burnes. The lefty gave up a two-run bomb to Omar Narvaez, then retired six of the next seven batters before being lifted after just two innings of work.
The team announced shortly after that the reason Anderson was removed was because he had developed a blister on his throwing hand. Despite the setback, Counsell seemed to think that Anderson would have a small chance of being ready for the start of the season.
When the team did not see the necessary progress with the blister, they decided to indeed put Anderson on the injured list. Luckily, per MLB rules, they were allowed to make the transaction retroactive to three days before the start of the season, which is what makes him eligible to return this Friday.
How might Anderson fit into the Brewers rotation?
There are a few different directions that manager Craig Counsell could go here. The simplest option would be to just activate Anderson on Friday when he’s eligible to return and push Burnes’s start to Saturday.
Another option would be to still activate him on Friday, but use him in tandem with Burnes, allowing each to pitch three to four innings. Counsell sort of did the same thing with Burnes and Brent Suter in the Brewers’ second game of the season against the Cubs and it resulted in their only win of the series.
A third option, one I think would work best for the team, would be to push Anderson’s debut to Saturday, which is when Freddy Peralta would be in line to start. Pressed into starting duty due to Anderson’s injury, Peralta struggled in his start on Sunday as he gave up four earned runs over three innings.
The Burnes-Suter tandem worked out pretty well against the Cubs with the explosive right-handed Burnes being offset by the slower, deliberate left-handed Suter. You would effectively get the same contrast out of Anderson and Peralta but would end up starting off with the softer throwing lefty Anderson in this instance since he seems to be more comfortable in a starting role.
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Whichever way they decide to go with Anderson, it just gives the Brewers yet another pitching weapon in a season where they will need many of them. What their role is, exactly, matters much less than whether they end up just going out and getting the job done.