Los Angeles Dodgers fans were once upon a time familiar with Atlanta Braves starter Ian Anderson, who they faced in both the 2020 and 2021 postseasons. At the time, as a 22- and 23-year-old, the right-hander was one of the most promising young arms in MLB.
In his first 30 starts (160.2 innings) as a Brave, Anderson was 12-7 with a 3.25 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 165 strikeouts. He also started eight playoff games (four against Los Angeles) and finished 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 40 strikeouts across those 35.2 innings.
So where is he now? A fixture atop Atlanta's rotation? One of the Braves' victims of a long-term, team-friendly extension that everybody except Max Fried has succumbed to?
Not quite. After going 10-6 with a 5.00 ERA, 1.51 WHIP and only 97 strikeouts in 22 starts (111.2 innings), Anderson was on trial heading into Spring Training this year. Unfortunately, the spiraling has continued. In three games (7.1 innings) in the Braves' exhibition games, Anderson has allowed five earned runs on five hits, eight walks and one hit batter.
He was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett this week and probably won't be on the Opening Day roster unless Atlanta were to suffer injuries to their pitching staff.
Braves' Ian Anderson teaching Dodgers lesson about pitching prospects
Thankfully, the Dodgers aren't one to prospect hug or invest too much time in allowing young talent to develop, but now that they're holding onto prized possessions in Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone, as well as others such as Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Landon Knack, Nick Nastrini, River Ryan and more, perhaps it's time for Andrew Friedman to plot who he'll sell high on.
LA clearly learned that with Josiah Gray when they cashed in on the Trea Turner/Max Scherzer blockbuster with the Washington Nationals back in 2021. Gray led the NL in walks and home runs allowed last year in his first full season of MLB action.
Anderson represents a more extreme case, though. He had proven regular-season and postseason experience before suffering his regression/setback. It's simply a warning that not every apparent gem pans out to an everyday MLB contributor.
By no means are we saying any of the aforementioned Dodgers prospects/young pitchers will suffer the same fate, but this exercise is always a numbers game. Stake your confidence in a select few and turn the others into greater/lateral assets.
It already takes long enough to build them up. Building them back after a fall from grace? That's not a situation you want to be saddled with.