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Brett Anderson serves important purpose in Brewers' rotation
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Brett Anderson serves important purpose in Brewers' rotation

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His five-strikeout performance against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night aside, Brett Anderson has never been the type of pitcher who relies on velocity to blow away hitters as teammates Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff do.

Instead, the veteran left-hander is at his best when pitching to contact and letting the defense handle the rest. And while not quite as flashy, that difference in style makes him just as effective and important to the Milwaukee Brewers' starting rotation.

"Corbin and Woody, their stuff is so good it doesn’t really matter what arm they pitch (with)," Anderson said. "So it is nice to be a little different, to be left-handed, just to change up the look."

Variety figures to be a strength for Milwaukee's rotation this season. Anderson, the lone left-hander among regular starters, uses a sinker and changeup to induce weak contact, similar to the way Adrian Houser, a right-hander, pitches from the other side of the rubber.

Right-hander Josh Lindblom doesn't have impressive velocity on his fastball — he averaged 90.1 mph last season, according to Statcast — but he rose to stardom in the Korean Baseball Organization with pinpoint command of that fastball along with a handful of supporting pitches, including a biting curveball.

Even hard-throwing right-handers Burnes and Woodruff differ in styles. Woodruff relies primarily on a four-seam fastball that averages 97 mph while Burnes has evolved from a fastball-slider pitcher to one who uses an expanded arsenal to set up his slider.

"You never want to have too many of the same guy because in a three-game series it might come into play," Anderson said.

Anderson, 33, went 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 10 starts last season and returned to the Brewers on a one-year, $2.5 million contract at the start of spring training. A severe winter storm in Texas, combined with the COVID-19 protocols following his signing, left Anderson a little behind schedule to start camp, but has made four appearances, going 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA.

Against the Reds on Saturday, Anderson allowed six hits and a walk over four scoreless innings.

"That's what you expect from Brett," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "What I thought was noticeable last night was the pace that he pitched with. He started to make it uncomfortable for hitters."

Anderson said the expedited pace was "a little bit" intentional but had to do more with circumstance than a specific intention.

"I’m a little more methodical with runners on because I don’t want to rush and stuff like that, but with nobody on I like to get it and go and keep the defense on their toes," Anderson said. "Baseball is pretty boring for the most part, so I try to limit that and keep it going as quick as possible."

On the field

Christian Yelich drove in the Brewers' run in a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday at American Family Fields of Phoenix.

Yelich provided a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first inning against left-hander James Paxton.

The Mariners evened the score in the second when Wisconsin native Jarred Kelenic hit his second home run of spring on a 3-1 offering from right-hander Freddy Peralta, who struck out five while allowing five hits and a walk over 4⅔ innings.

"I thought Freddy pitched really, really well. He used a lot of breaking balls,” Counsell said. “Stuff got better kind of when he needed it. He threw 85, 86 pitches. He pitched very well. And he maintained his stuff throughout all those pitches.”

Drew Rasmussen continued his impressive spring with two strikeouts over 1⅓ scoreless innings, but Seattle pulled ahead with solo home runs by Julio Rodriguez and Jantzen Witte off Brad Boxberger (0-2) and J.P. Feyereisen, respectively.

From the infirmary

Utility man Jace Peterson's thumb injury flared up recently but he's expected to return to game action this week.

"We’ve told Jace he won’t be on the Opening Day roster," Counsell said. "So at this point, let's be very conservative about how we’re going with your thumb and let’s get you ready for the Major League season."

Around the horn

Right-hander Devin Williams will pitch roughly every third day over the rest of Milwaukee's exhibition schedule but will not make back-to-back appearances before Opening Day. Both Williams (quad) and center fielder Lorenzo Cain (shoulder) made their Cactus League debuts Saturday night and reported no physical issues. ... Luis Urias and Orlando Arcia will both see action at shortstop and third base over the final week of games, likely alternating by game as Counsell tries to gauge their abilities at those positions.

On deck

Woodruff (0-0, 4.50 ERA) is scheduled to start today against the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear, Arizona. Right-hander Triston McKenzie (0-1, 5.59 ERA) is Cleveland's scheduled starter.

Here’s everything you need to know as Milwaukee Brewers kick off spring training in Arizona

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