A season ago, Chase Anderson was a jack of all trades trying to master one in Triple-A. This year, the right-hander is filling a single role and letting the results speak for themselves.
Anderson allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out seven in 7 1/3 innings as Double-A Mobile shut out Birmingham, 5-0, on Thursday night at Regions Field.
"I think it's more my thing," Anderson said of his starting status for the BayBears." I've got three pretty good pitches that I can throw for strikes at any time. I'm in a good role right now, just taking each outing with a grain of salt and trying to move on to the next one."
Anderson (4-2) started his first 12 outings for Triple-A Reno last season before coming out of the bullpen for 13 of his final 14. This year, the 25-year-old has gone at least six innings in all six of his starts and hasn't allowed a run over his last 19 innings dating back to a loss at Huntsville on April 20. The right-hander has thrown 66 percent of his pitches for strikes and has posted 6.33 strikeouts for every walk he's issued.
The BayBears gave Anderson a cushion to work with by scoring three times in the top of the first. David Peralta, Jake Lamb and Raywilly Gomez each had RBI base hits in the inning to send Anderson to the mound with the lead.
"When you get that run support, you can go out there, calm down, get zoned in and focus on fastballs down in the zone," the Oklahoma product said. "If you have to, you can go to your off-speeds to get guys out. The ground balls, the defense worked, and it's definitely nice to get that run support."
After surrendering a leadoff single to Micah Johnson in the first, the righty didn't allow another hit until Michael Earley singled in the fifth. Miguel Gonzalez doubled to lead off Anderson's last frame, but the University of Oklahoma product notched a strikeout in six of his frames, including the final out he recorded -- a swinging strikeout of Keenyn Walker.
"Early on, it was fastball command, getting my fastball over for strikes," he said. "Later on in the game, I was able to throw my curveball for a strike, my changeup for a strike and change it when I was behind in the count. As the game progressed, it mixed really well."
In the fifth, Mobile extended the lead when Peralta doubled in his second run of the night and Gomez worked a bases-loaded walk for his second RBI.
Anderson stifled Birmingham's offense, the second-best in the Southern League with a .256 team average, with a straightforward plan.
"Both of these teams are defending [division] champions in this league and have a lot of talent on the teams," he said. "What we talked about before the game was just to attack the guys and be able to execute pitches down in the zone. Good things happened. Steve Rodriguez is one of the better catchers I've ever thrown to. He's really good at seeing things, seeing hitters, so I just kind of roll with him. He guides me and leads me every time."
Behind Anderson, a trio of BayBears relievers -- Patrick Schuster, Willy Paredes and Matt Stites -- combined to close out the win. Stites earned the save by retiring the final two batters of the ninth.
No. 8 White Sox prospect Chris Beck (2-4) allowed five runs on six hits and three walks while striking out five over 4 2/3 innings.