ST. LOUIS -- If this was Chase Anderson's final start of his best season in the big leagues, he went out on a high. But there was still a sliver of hope he would find his way to the mound again.
Anderson pitched a gem into the eighth inning of Friday's 5-3 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, keeping the Brewers alive in the National League Wild Card chase for at least one more day. The path to another Anderson start is as clear as it is narrow: The Brewers must finish a sweep over St. Louis, and they need the Dodgers to rebound from a loss to the Rockies on Friday night to defeat Colorado on Saturday and Sunday at Coors Field.
Then the Brewers themselves would have to win a game in Denver on Monday. If all of those things happen, then Anderson could take the mound at his former home, Chase Field, for a matchup with Zack Greinke and the D-backs in the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday.
"That would be awesome," Anderson said. "If we get in that position and play those guys, it's going to be a dogfight. I'm looking forward to it. We have to win these next two games, though."
Said his catcher on Friday, Stephen Vogt: "Obviously, we need some luck right now."
If their luck runs out, then Anderson's capper on a fine season will be his seven-plus innings against the Cardinals, in which he surrendered one run on three hits, including Paul DeJong's home run, while walking one batter and striking out five to lower his ERA for the season to 2.74 in 25 starts and 141 1/3 innings.
Among NL pitchers who logged at least 100 innings, Anderson ranked fifth in ERA as of Friday, tied with the Giants' Madison Bumgarner for sixth with 1.09 walks plus hits per inning pitched, and ninth with a .214 opponents' batting average.
The difference has been confidence in two additional offspeed pitches -- a curveball and a cutter -- to go with Anderson's fastball and changeup. Some extra fastball velocity helped, too. Anderson credited bulking up last winter for the extra two mph on his heater.
"He has turned into a four-pitch pitcher, which puts the hitter never in a good mode as far as sitting on something," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "The velocity is up a tick, which is always helpful, but the curveball is the pitch that has come the farthest."
Anderson heaped credit on Brewers pitching coach Derek Johnson, saying, "I don't think I would be in this position without him."
The two will be together for some time, barring a trade. Anderson earned $2.45 million this season in his first year of arbitration eligibility as a Super 2 player, meaning the Brewers have three more seasons of his services ahead before Anderson reaches free agency. With top starter Jimmy Nelson expected to miss the start of next season while recovering from shoulder surgery, Anderson and Zach Davies are, for the moment, Milwaukee's top two starting pitchers.
"This year, it's been great for me personally," Anderson said. "Not just the results, but having the four pitches to go out there every outing and get outs. When you have that many weapons in your bag, you feel confident."
He hopes to utilize those weapons again at Chase Field, even if the odds are long.
"The biggest thing is, we've had a great season so far, regardless of what happens," Anderson said. "A lot of people didn't expect us to be in this position this early in this rebuilding process, and we're here. It's something definitely to build off of."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.