Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: Brett Anderson

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Brett Anderson #30 of the Oakland Athletics pitches in the third inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 13, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Brett Anderson #30 of the Oakland Athletics pitches in the third inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 13, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Friday, May 18, the Toronto Blue Jays will play the second game of a 4-game series against the Oakland Athletics. The Blue Jays will send Marco Estrada to the hill while the A’s will counter with former Blue Jay, Brett Anderson.

Brett Anderson was added late to the Blue Jays team last year after he was dropped by the Chicago Cubs. The former second-round pick pitched to a 2-2 record, 5.13 ERA, 1.440, and 90 ERA+ for the Blue Jays. Although this is not good by any means, it was much better than his short time with the Cubs, where he started six games and pitched to a 2-2 record, 8.18 ERA, 2.091 WHIP, and disastrous 54 ERA+.

After a weak year last season, Anderson had to wait a while for a contract from a major league team. Finally, on March 20, the Athletics signed Anderson to a minor league contract and assigned him to AAA-Nashville out of spring training. He was quite promising in AAA, accumulating a 1.89 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 19 innings. However, while pitching for the big club, he has been far from this level of dominance.

The thirty-year-old has made three starts for the A’s which have been anything but consistent. In his first start, he allowed just two earned runs and five hits. However, in his second game, he allowed nine runs, seven of which were earned across ten hits. His third start, he allowed a mediocre four runs over five innings pitched. Overall, Anderson has been worth -0.1 fWAR, pitching to an 0-2 record, 8.18 ERA, 2.023 WHIP, and a terrible 53 ERA+.

Needless to say, nothing that Anderson offers is that impressive. The lefty will offer a fastball, sinker, slider, change-up, and knuckle curve. Anderson makes his money by working quickly and filling the zone. Thus, Anderson mostly uses the fastball, sinker, and slider.

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In terms of use rate, the slider is the southpaw’s favourite pitch. This year, Anderson has used the slider 31.1% of the time, averaging a velocity of 81.9 mph. The slider is exceptional at producing ground balls. This season, the slider has produced ground balls on 66.67% of balls in play.

The four-seam fastball is used second most, at a use rate of 23.5%. The fastball holds an unexceptional, but not bad, average velocity of 92.42 mph. Interestingly, the fastball is the only pitch in Anderson’s repertoire that does not produce ground balls on at least 60% of balls in play. The fastball has produced ground balls on just 30.77% of balls in play while also allowing a high 38.46% of line drives per ball in play. As a result of these outcomes, the fastball holds a terrible BAA of .467 and even worse SLGA of 1.000.

The sinker is thrown towards the plate 22.7% of the time and averages a decent average velocity of 91.15 mph. The sinker has produced whiffs on just 3.85% of swings. However, it has produced groundballs on 61.54% of balls in play.

Anderson has changed speeds on opposing batters 13.5% of the time this season. The southpaw’s change averages a velocity of 84.88 mph. The change has been Anderson’s best pitch in terms of batting average. The off-speed offering has allowed a BAA of just .250. However, it has also allowed a terrible SLGA of .625.

Anderson will also throw a hook 9.2% of the time. It is a slow breaking ball, currently averaging a velocity of 75.83 mph. Interestingly, the knuckle curve has produced the most groundballs per ball in play, at a rate of 71.43%.

Anderson does not produce many strikeouts, his game is centred around pitching to contact. This season, Anderson holds a poor K% of 11.8%, leading to a bad 5.02 K/9—it’s generally not a good sign when a pitcher’s ERA is higher than his K/9.

The lefty has also allowed a fair amount of home runs, this season. Currently, his HR/9 is at a high 1.88 and his HR/FB% is at a terrible 21.4%. Across three starts, Anderson has allowed three home runs.

Despite all of his faults, Anderson has pitched to an excellent 55.6% groundball rate. As already shown, almost every one of his pitches produces an extreme rate of groundballs. As well, by pitching quickly—essentially pitching the ball as soon as it’s in his glove—he puts batters on their back foot which limits their ability to produce better contact.

Most of the current Blue Jays know Anderson as a teammate. However, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak, and Yangervis Solarte know the Texas native as an opposing pitcher. Each batter, with the exception of Morales and Martin, has fared well against Anderson. Against Anderson, Granderson holds a .417/.462/.667 slash in 12 at-bats, Smoak holds a .364/.462/.545 line in 11 at-bats and Solarte has managed a .500/.600/.500 slash in four. Morales has just two hits in eleven at-bats against Anderson and Martin has no hits and three walks in nine plate appearances.

Next: Blue Jays: Why they haven’t cut Kendrys Morales just yet

The starters in Friday’s game should move through quickly. Both starters, Anderson and Estrada, subscribe to the Mark Beurhle school of pitching. Anderson has struggled this year and the Blue Jays should come into the game ready to hit and work quickly.