Rays reliever Nick Anderson says fatigue has been a factor

Anderson takes a lot of the blame for the Game 6 loss, says after a heavy postseason workload he has been low on gas.
Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Nick Anderson (70) delivers a pitch in the sixth inning in Game 6 of the World Series vs. the Dodgers.
Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Nick Anderson (70) delivers a pitch in the sixth inning in Game 6 of the World Series vs. the Dodgers. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 28, 2020|Updated Oct. 29, 2020

ARLINGTON, Texas — Nick Anderson isn’t hurt.

But the Rays' highest-leverage reliever acknowledged after Tuesday’s season-ending loss in Game 6 of the World Series that he has been tired, and somewhat out of gas, which would seem to explain his postseason struggles.

That was illustrated Tuesday when he let a 1-0 sixth-inning lead get away after manager Kevin Cash’s controversial decision to pull starter Blake Snell.

“I didn’t feel as good as I would have liked to, but it’s the big leagues; you’re not going to go out and feel good every time,” Anderson said. "So I was going out there and I was still confident. It wasn’t the situation, it wasn’t being in the World Series or anything like that. ….

“Not a lot of gas, (velocity) was down. Go out there and try to give everything I’ve got, and it didn’t work out.”

Related: History will forever sneer at Kevin Cash for yanking Blake Snell

Anderson allowed a double to Mookie Betts, then runs on a wild pitch and a ground ball to first, but it was enough to cost the Rays the lead and put Cash’s decision in World Series lore.

“We had a 1-0 lead and the thought was, ‘What’s the best way to secure a 1-0 lead at that point?' And I felt it was going to Nick Anderson,” Cash said.

“It has been a little bit of a challenging run for him. But over the last two years, I think there’s an argument to be made that he’s been the best reliever in baseball. And we’re going to trust that he’s going to go do this thing.”

The problem is that Anderson hasn’t been doing it of late. He was used heavily during the postseason, and it appears the workload caught up with him.

Consider that in 19 regular-season appearances around a two-week injured list stint for forearm inflammation, he worked 16 1/3 innings, faced 58 batters, striking out 26 while allowing five hits, three walks and two runs (one earned)

In 10 postseason appearances, Anderson worked 14 2/3 innings, seven times bridging innings to get at least four outs (and eight in Game 5 of the Division Series against Yankees), faced 61 batters and struck out nine, allowing 16 hits, four walks and nine earned runs, including at least one in his last seven outings, the longest such streak in history.

Related: A weak offense finally cost the Rays a shot at immortality

Still, Cash was convinced that Anderson’s stuff, and the different look he provided, was a better option than allowing Snell, who had struck out nine and allowed only two hits with no walks, to face the Dodgers order for a third time.

While Cash said he regretted the decision since it didn’t work, the “thought process was right,” and it sounded like he would make the same move: “If we had to do it over again, I would have the utmost confidence in Nick Anderson to get through that inning.”

Anderson said he hadn’t told bullpen coach Stan Boroski, pitching coach Kyle Snyder or Cash of his fatigue because it’s not a reason to not succeed.

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“I didn’t really say anything because to me it — I don’t want to say it’s not important — but whether you’re kind of running out of gas or not, you should be able to go out and get the job done,” Anderson said. “That’s my mindset on it. If I was injured, if something was hurting specifically, I’d say, ‘Hey I’m laboring a little bit.’ But you’re never going to hear any of us, be like, ‘Oh, we’re a little tired.' That’s just not us.”

Anderson said he felt he was up to the task.

“My mindset going out, it was the same. It really was,” he said. “The ball just wasn’t coming out. I still should have been able to get the job done, and didn’t. I’ll always carry a lot of that weight on my back. The guys always say, ‘Win as a team, lose as a team,' but I don’t know. I take pride I my work, so I’ll take a lot of the blame.”