MILWAUKEE -- Chase Anderson walked the first two men who stepped into the batter's box at Miller Park on Saturday, but he also offered the first hint he had special stuff. Ball four to D-backs leadoff man Gregor Blanco left Anderson's hand at 96.9 mph, the hardest pitch he's ever thrown in the Major Leagues, according to Statcast™.
Maybe it's time to rewrite the scouting report on a 29-year-old right-hander heretofore regarded for an excellent changeup. Velocity isn't everything, but it was the biggest thing for Anderson as he carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of the Brewers' 6-1 win.
"To be able to throw it past guys is nice," Anderson said.
Anderson's four-seam fastball averaged 94.8 mph, per Statcast™, a career high. He also set career highs with 11 strikeouts and 114 pitches before exiting to a standing ovation after his no-hit hopes were dashed by Nick Ahmed's groundball single leading off the eighth.
Yes, Anderson was facing his former team, which traded him to Milwaukee in January 2016. He conceded that he pitches with a chip on his shoulder against Arizona, saying, "You want to kind of make them second guess that trade."
But there is something more behind Anderson's velocity bump this year. Anderson added 10 pounds of muscle during offseason workouts at Michael Johnson Performance, a gym just four or five long tosses from his home in McKinney, TX. Ian Kinsler and Matt Kemp are among the other Major Leaguers who train there.
Yes, that is the same Michael Johnson who won four Olympic gold medals and once held the title of World's Fastest Man.
"I knew gaining weight in the offseason that I needed to take it to the next step," Anderson said. "Having the velocity makes everything else better. Hopefully I can maintain it the whole season. Maybe not 97, but staying in the low- to mid-90s and be able to hit spots. You can make a mistake here or there and be able to get away with it."
That extra zip aided the effectiveness of a changeup that averaged 84.6 mph on Saturday and a curveball at 79.4 mph, which Anderson mixed well enough to match his season high for strikeouts (seven) by the fourth inning, and his previous career high for whiffs (10) by the sixth. Anderson caught Yasmany Tomas looking at a curveball for the second out of the seventh for strikeout No. 11, a new career high.
"We know there was more velo than when he was with us," said D-backs manager Torey Luvullo. "That's what I was I [led] to understand. You have to give him some credit. Our team offensively is very capable. When you shut us down the way he did, you know, he's doing it right."
Said catcher Jett Bandy, who backed Anderson's pitching with a three-run double off Zack Greinke: "It was like a video game. I was putting my fingers down and he was throwing it. That was all on him."
After Ahmed's single prompted Anderson's exit to a standing ovation, it was impossible to know how far Brewers manager Craig Counsell would have let his starter go. Anderson's final pitch of the seventh inning was his 111th, a new career high. He finished with 114 pitches.
"I could throw 150 pitches today. I didn't care," Anderson said. "I wanted to get the no-hitter. Ninety pitches felt like I'd thrown one pitch. I felt pretty good all day."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.