Milwaukee Brewers right-handed pitcher Chase Anderson will make the first Opening Day start of his career on March 29 against the San Diego Padres, the team announced today.
The 30-year-old Anderson will be the fifth different Opening Day starter for the Brewers in as many years, and was the most logical decision with right-handed pitcher Jimmy Nelson, wow was Milwaukee’s best pitcher in 2017, still recovering from September shoulder surgery.
Anderson also had a terrific 2017 season of his own, going 12-4 with a 2.73 earned run average and 133 strikeouts across 141.1 innings of work. Had he stayed healthy all year, Anderson’s earned run average would’ve ranked third in the National League, trailing only Washington Nationals studs’ Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer, and Los Angeles Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw.
Milwaukee will play a three-game set with the Padres in San Diego to start out their season before their home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 3. Zach Davies and Jhoulys Chacin are expected to start the two other games in San Diego for the Brewers, with it not yet known who still start the home opener. Brent Suter and Wade Miley, two left-handed pitchers, are the early favorites to win the two open spots in Milwaukee’s rotation, with Junior Guerra and Brandon Woodruff lurking behind them.
“It’s really [an honor] to set the tone, as I call it, for the season,” Anderson said when asked about being named Opening Day starter for the Brewers, per MLB.com. “I think for us as a team, we want to continue to build off last season, and to get the ball the first day means everything.”
The Brewers went 86-76 in 2017, and missed the playoffs by just a game. Milwaukee had an aggressive approach when it came to upgrading their roster this off-season by trading prospects to the Miami Marlins for outfielder Christian Yelich, and signing outfielder Lorenzo Cain to a five-year deal worth $80 million. Pitching was considered the team’s strong suit last season, even with very few recognizable names.
Pitching coach Derek Johnson is a big reason why the Brewers pitching staff has had so much success upon his arrival in 2016. He helped improve Nelson’s mechanics on the mound, and he helped Anderson become a more unpredictable pitcher. As MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy notes, Anderson became more unpredictable simply by throwing his fastball and change-up about 15% less in 2017.
“Chase has put together, when healthy, over a year of really high-quality starts,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “The step that Chase took last year I think started in 2016. It probably didn’t go as noticed, but when we started talking about last spring how we thought our pitching had turned the corner, Chase was really at the forefront of that. What’s been fun about watching him is, we’ve seen him get better over the last year.”
Anderson agreed to a two-year extension with the Brewers this off-season that could potentially became a four-year one if Milwaukee exercises it’s team options on the right-handed hurler. Anderson will earn base salaries of $4.2 million in 2018, $6 million in 2019, and then $8.5 million in 2020 and $9.5 million in 2021 if the Brewers elect to pay him those salary figures.
While the extension and the honor of being named Opening Day starter was nice for Anderson’s personal career, he is more focused on helping the Brewers win a World Series for the first time in franchise history. He and a lot of guys share that same sentiment in the Brewers clubhouse as well.
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