Right-hander Chase Anderson, who played parts of two seasons for the Arizona Diamondbacks, starts Sunday against his former mates.
The Arizona Diamondbacks hope to give their former pitcher a difficult homecoming. In facing ex-teammate Chase Anderson, the Diamondbacks are out to even the playing field.
That’s because in previous outings, Anderson has put up impressive numbers. In three starts against his former team since dealt for Jean Segura, Anderson is 2-0 and a 2.00 ERA. That included a 6-1 win over Arizona in Miller Park on May 27.
Aside from numbers, Anderson has undergone a transformation and alteration in his mechanics. That involves a different grip on the ball and release point. When Anderson was in the desert, his fastball traveled in the low 90s. Now, his fastball is constantly in the mid-90s and improved secondary pitches become effective.
All of which propelled Anderson into advantageous position. Coming into his start Sunday against the Diamondbacks’ Robbie Ray, Anderson is 5-1 for 2017 with a career-best 2.94 ERA. That includes 12 starts and Anderson told Venom Strikes in the Brewers clubhouse before Friday’s series opener he’s added depth.
"I’m a four-pitch pitcher right now. My curve is good and I’ve added a cutter. It all starts with fast ball command, and I’ve always been aware the importance of fast ball command."
For the increase in velocity, Anderson credits Brewers’ pitching coach Derek Johnson, who suggested Anderson change his grip on his fastball. That increased the velocity and now, breaking pitches feed off an improved speed.
That represents a marked change from his years in the desert. In parts of two seasons with Arizona, Anderson went 15-13 in 48 career starts. That precluded six seasons in the Diamondbacks’ farm system an eventual recall from Double-A Mobile early in the 2014 season.
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Also at work is Anderson’s growth and maturing. At 29-years-old, the native of Wichita Falls, Tex. is in his fourth major league season, and time for separation. Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell told Venom Strikes that Anderson’s improved productivity is coming at the right time.
"(Chase) is hitting the sweet spot of his career. That’s when a player, with experience, begins to see everything come together. Now, he’s a four-pitch pitcher, and his ball moves in the mid-90s."
There is eager anticipation for the Sunday match-up with Ray. While Anderson spent seven years in the Diamondbacks organization, friendships still abound. With numbers Anderson has put up and Ray now locked in a zone in which he has won four straight and second in the National League in strikeouts, the hype surrounding this one may not be exaggerated. Anderson told Venom Strikes he still maintains several associations with his former teammates.
"Robbie and I are great friends and I’m looking forward to this. Looks like he’s having a great season, and we’re playing well, too. We try not get too excited, not look ahead but our goals are now. That’s the game we’re playing now, and the current situation. We’re always looking for ways to get better"
The Sunday match-up is the final game of the season between these two teams. Then again, Milwaukee and Arizona met in the 2011 National Division Series.
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After Sunday’s series finale with the Brewers and home stand finale, the Diamondbacks head to Detroit for a two-game, interleague series against the Tigers.
Prior to Saturday’s game, Arizona manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes that Paul Goldschmidt will likely be the Diamondbacks designated hitter in that series. Then, Lovullo gave his reason.
"This gives Paul a change to be in the line-up and still rest. Also, I’m thinking about four or five different situations, but using Paul given him an opportunity get off his feel and still play"