With a young career riddled with injuries, it was tough for A’s fans to see Brett Anderson endure a Tommy John reconstruction surgery, adding further doubt to what kind of career Anderson could put together.
There is virtually no question that, when healthy, Anderson can be a top-of-the-rotation starter. With decent K rates and a 2010 season with a 2.80 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, there could be a bright future ahead for Anderson if his injuries can become a thing of the past.
After allowing only one run in seven innings in his first start back from the TJ surgery performed on July 11th of last year, a lot of deeper owners have already snatched up Anderson for the final push. But can Anderson be an asset in all fantasy leagues?
With a shaky stint in AAA while regaining his strength, I have tempered my expectations. But I wanted to watch Anderson’s start pitch-by-pitch against the Indians last night to see how he’s really looking beyond just the box score. Here’s how he fared:
First Inning: Anderson’s first pitch is a 92-MPH fastball for strike one to Jason Kipnis. Anderson misses low, then in the dirt, 2-1. He then rears back a 94-MPH fastball for a swing-and-miss, 2-2. Great velocity there to even the count. After fouling one off, Kipnis then misses a devastating slider at 84-MPH to strike out, one down. Anderson is again ahead of Jason Donald, 0-1, then gets him to chase a high heater, 0-2. After one is too high, Donald grounds out weakly to third, two down. On the first pitch Shin-Soo Choo rockets one to short, but it’s an easy play and a clean inning.
Second Inning: Now with two runs of support, Anderson is right back in the zone, getting ahead of Carlos Santana 0-2. After laying off two pitches way out of the zone, Anderson misses even worse to get the count full. The payoff pitch is a fastball grounded out to second, one down. Even when his breaking stuff isn’t working, Anderson’s fastball can still produce outs, a great sign. Anderson starts Michael Brantley with a fastball for strike one to get ahead once again. After a ball, Brantley grounds out weakly to first, and it’s two down. Anderson misses with the slider for ball one to Shelley Duncan, but evens the count with a cutter. Anderson throws a slider right down the middle that Duncan hits hard, but right to Stephen Drew and it’s another perfect inning.
Third Inning: Opening the third inning with another run of support, Anderson goes with a fastball to Brent Lillibridge, 0-1. Anderson misses, then a nasty, NASTY slider induces a swing-and-miss, 1-2. Anderson misses high, but then gets Lillibridge to swing-and-miss for his second strikeout. Lillibridge looked very overmatched there. Anderson starts with a curveball to Matt LaPorta, and gets a lazy grounder to third for an easy one-pitch out. Anderson misses outside to Lou Marson, but then hits the outside corner, 1-1. Anderson buries a slider, but then gets Marson to chop one foul, 2-2. Anderson hangs a slider and Marson gets a hold of it, but it’s right at Coco Crisp in center for Anderson’s third straight perfect inning.
Fourth Inning: Still without allowing a base runner, Anderson rolls a curveball in the zone for strike one to Kipnis. He misses low, then a swing-and-miss makes it 1-2. After barely missing low with a painting 94-MPH fastball, he gets Kipnis to ground out weakly to second, one down. The first pitch to Donald is laced to right, but Reddick makes a diving grab for the second out. Great play there. Helps to have a great defense behind you. Anderson is attacking again with two straight off speed pitches for strikes to get ahead of Choo, 0-2. Then he throws a NASTY fastball at 94-MPH that sunk a good 10 inches to get a swing-and-miss for out number three. Four perfect innings in the books.
Fifth Inning: Anderson paints the outer, lower corner with the heater for strike one, and again is in the zone, 0-2 on Santana. Santana fouls one off, then Anderson misses up and away, 1-2. Anderson throws another mean slider boring down and in on Santana, but somehow Santana gets a piece to stay alive. The next pitch is popped out in foul territory and first baseman Chris Carter makes the catch, one down. Anderson tries to get ahead with the curveball, but rolls it high, 1-0. The next pitch saws Brantley off, and it’s scooped by Carter and tossed to Cliff Pennington covering, but the umpire calls Brantley safe on a terrible call where Brantley was easily out. Tough break there for Anderson to break up the perfect game. Anderson gets ahead of Duncan, but misses twice, 2-1. The next pitch is grounded softly to short, and it’s an easy, tailor-made double play and Anderson is out of the inning. Really tough call against Anderson and the A’s.
Sixth Inning: Hoping to bounce back from the bad call, Anderson misses twice, then gets in the zone with the fastball, 2-1 to Lillibridge. Anderson gets him to foul one off, 2-2. Anderson then hangs a breaking ball that Lillibridge crushes to left center for a double off the wall. That one hung right down the middle for Anderson’s first big mistake on the day. However, he’s right back in the zone against LaPorta, going up 0-2 after the next one is fouled off. Anderson then goes high and tight with a fastball and LaPorta can’t hold his swing for Anderson’s 4th strikeout. Anderson misses, then is in there, 1-1 to Marson. Anderson buries a great fastball right on the inside lower corner to go ahead 1-2. After fouling two off, Marson lines out sharply to left to Cespedes, two down. Anderson misses, then a strike, but loses his command to fall behind 3-1 to Kipnis. The next pitch is a fastball just off the plate for Anderson’s first walk. Runners at first and second with two down. Anderson gets Donald to foul the first one back, then throws a great slider that breaks into the zone, 0-2. Anderson goes with the curveball and gets Donald to ground out weakly into the fielder’s choice, and Anderson is out of the leadoff double jam.
Seventh Inning: Back out there, Anderson starts the seventh with a strike to Choo showing bunt, but not offering, 0-1. Anderson misses twice, 2-1, then gets Choo to ground out weakly to second, one down. With the count 1-1 on Santana, Anderson misses outside, then high, and finally low and inside, for his second walk. A brief meeting on the mound starts Ryan Cook throwing in the bullpen, so let’s hope Anderson can finish the inning. Anderson misses way outside on Brantley, 0-1. The next pitch is grounded weakly to second, but Pennington is wide with the throw to second trying to get the double play, and Brantley reaches on the error. Again with runners on first and second like last inning, Anderson starts Duncan with a ball low, 1-0. He’s right back in the zone, 1-1, then takes a little off and gets a big swing-and-miss, 1-2. Anderson then goes with that disgusting slider, and Duncan can’t hold his swing as it dips low, and it’s Anderson’s 5th K. Now with two outs, Anderson is low to Lillibridge, 1-0. The next pitch is hit well to right, but it’s caught by Reddick on the run to get Anderson out of the inning. And that will close the book on a very impressive outing for the southpaw.
Final Line: W 7 Innings 95 Pitches (60 Strikes)
2 Hits 2 Walks 0 Runs 5 Ks
Final Analysis: Another exceptional outing for Brett Anderson as he returns to the Athletics rotation, and he should be scooped up in virtually every fantasy league with his rebuilt arm mowing down Major League hitters. One of the only two hits he gave up was a terrible call. However, there were a few well-hit balls that were hit right to defenders, but nothing to suggest this was a lucky outing. Anderson’s stuff looks really good.
With a fastball that can get outs and swings-and-misses, to go along with a devastating slider and a curveball he can throw for strikes, Anderson’s arsenal looks as good as I have ever seen. Given he’s only pitched a limited number of innings, but I think if Anderson’s rebuilt elbow can keep him off the DL, he’s going to have some great years in Oakland. Not to mention he’s still only 24 years old, which surprised me given his service time beginning in 2009.
Anderson is a great add for your final push to the playoffs, and/or will help you win the pitching categories if you’re already in your league’s postseason. It’s a great sign to see his slider so effective given that pitch puts the most stress on your elbow, so I think he will be fully healthy until the end of the season with solid numbers.