Chase Anderson Makes Statement For Brewers Staff In Opener

Image credit: (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO—For the Milwaukee Brewers to get where they want to go this year, they are going to have to pitch better than anyone thinks they will.

The same-day acquisitions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain in January announced to the baseball world that the Brewers intended to compete right now—not in a few years when their talented farm system hopefully paid dividends.

They made no such impact additions to their rotation, raising more than a few eyebrows amongst observers, but apparently content with largely the same starting group that finished fifth in the National League in ERA a year ago.

Opening Day represented just one game, with many more to go before the wisdom of that decision can be properly evaluated. But for that symbolic day at least, the Brewers starting pitching was as good as the team needs it to be.

Chase Anderson pitched six scoreless innings with one hit allowed, and the Brewers picked up a 2-1, 12-inning victory over the Padres in the season-opener on Thursday.

Anderson, making his first career Opening Day start, allowed just a harmless single, walked three and struck out six. He overcame the lingering effects of an illness, threw 61 of 97 pitches for strikes and was in line for the win until a blown save in the ninth.

“The guys we have in house we’re comfortable with. We’re all confident in all those guys and you’re going to see that this season,” Anderson said. “Obviously (Jake) Arrieta was out there, (Alex) Cobb, Lance Lynn, we were watching to see what happened. But we had confidence with the guys in this clubhouse because of what we’d done in the past.”

Four-fifths of the Brewers present rotation—Anderson, Zach Davies, Brent Suter and Brandon Woodruff—played a role in Milwaukee finishing as the fifth-best starting rotation in the NL a year ago. Even without Jimmy Nelson, who is out with a shoulder injury, the Brewers rotation contains most of the same players who made the unit successful a year ago.

That fact is one the starting group feels is often overlooked, and provides additional drive.

“It is motivation,” Anderson said. “We’re still trying to prove ourselves and show we’re good with what we have, and we’re doing that.”

Altogether six Brewers pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts in holding the Padres to six hits and one run over 12 innings. The lone blemish—but a big one—was Corey Knebel’s blown save in the ninth on a two-out RBI single by Freddy Galvis.

It was a performance that the headline acquisitions appreciated, and one they expect to continue.

“We got a solid pitching staff,” Cain said. “That’s what you need to get to where we want to be, and that’s the playoffs, and we have it.”

Cain believes it. So does Anderson, with the facts backing them up.

With more performances like the opener—and last year, for that matter—the Brewers’ dreams of immediate contention will become a reality.

“We pitched really well, again,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We’ve pitched really well for a while now and I think we haven’t gotten a ton of credit for how well we’ve been pitching, going back to last year obviously. Chase has pitched at this level for over a year we feel like, a really high level, and that’s why he got the ball on Opening Day. He was outstanding. Really, everyone was outstanding.”

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