We’ve taken a look at the starting pitching depth for the Dodgers this offseason, but let’s look at perhaps the biggest question mark this winter when it comes to the backend of the rotation. Brett Anderson is projected to be the Dodgers fifth starter behind a seemingly solid squad including front man and perennial Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, along with quirky yet dominating Zack Greinke, the popular southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu, and new Dodger Brandon McCarthy. Brett Anderson, if healthy, could add a dynamic bookend to the starting rotation.
Did I mention that Anderson is coming off of back surgery last August? He has proclaimed that he is good to go for Spring Training.
"“I feel good and hope, with no setback, I should be good to go for Spring Training,” he said."
Anderson has been rehabbing from his surgery for a herniated disk this winter, an injury he suffered after one specific pitch. Anderson maintains that most of his injuries, which have been numerous over his career, were “fluky.”
Brett also broke his left index finger in 2014 while batting. Coupled with his back injury, Anderson only pitched in eight games, all starts, and finished the year going 1-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 2014. Anderson hasn’t pitched more than 45 innings in a season since 2011. The Dodgers will be looking for the big lefty to regain his early career form and avoid the almost inevitable injury.
What are the odds that Anderson stays healthy all season? I suppose it is reasonable to ask the same about the rest of the rotation as well, so Anderson at least deserves an opportunity to pitch his way into the rotation and contribute to the team in order to shore up the back end of the rotation.
Perhaps I’m looking at the Brett Anderson deal (one-year $10 million plus $4 million in incentives) with a prematurely glass half empty outlook. It didn’t help that the Dodgers’ pitching corps have been plagued with incessant injuries the past two seasons. I really don’t want to suffer through more Kevin Correia-type starts when Carlos Frias or Red Patterson make their inevitable spot start. Dan Haren‘s reliably weak starts didn’t help my backend rotation worries last season either.
Call to the Pen
Backend starters are frustrating to me, yet I understand their place in the game. The Dodgers can’t have five Clayton Kershaws in their starting rotation. Or can they? I say lock up Zack Greinke now AND sign David Price or Stephen Strasburg, but Adrian thinks the Dodgers should let Greinke walk next winter. Until that crop of elite free agent starters is ready to harvest next offseason, the Dodgers will be looking to McCarthy and Anderson to remain healthy for more than 30 innings each.
Anderson will start throwing from a mound this week, and he looks forward to showing what he is capable of doing with his new team. If Anderson can regain his rookie year form, he could really give the Dodgers a very exciting rotation.
It’s a gamble. Yet the risky signing could pay off very well for Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi if Anderson should provide reliable backend starting pitching. He was the Opening Day starter for Oakland back in 2013, and he’ll be just 27-years old on February 1st. The Dodgers seem to be very confident in Anderson’s health says Eric Stephen of True Blue LA.
Zaidi feels that Anderson’s arm is not the issue, and it’s been years since his Tommy John Surgery in 2011.
"“As far durability goes, he hasn’t been a consistent year-in, year-out 200-inning guy, obviously, so there is some risk,” Zaidi acknowledged. “I do have a difference of opinion of lumping him in with guys who finished last year with arm issues. Brett had a freak thumb issue, and a very minor back issue that we feel won’t be an issue going forward.”"
Instead of signing a big name starting pitcher this offseason like a Max Scherzer or Jon Lester, the Dodgers have chosen to go the more economical route by picking up Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. It’s almost reminiscent of the Dodgers signing Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang in 2012 instead of spending on the more expensive free agent Hiroki Kuroda.
I’m intrigued by the possible storyline of a Brett Anderson comeback for the Dodgers in 2015. Yet I’m hesitant to get too excited after looking at his laundry list of injuries over his career. The fifth day is always the most variable, and Kershaw starts are the least. Brett Anderson’s comeback article is yet to be written, but I’m hoping for my chance to watch him pitch a full season for the Dodgers.
Anderson is already a favorite of mine on Twitter, and his sarcasm is appreciated and welcomed.
Anderson IS healthy right now, so maybe we need to remain positive about his upcoming season with the Dodgers. After all, Josh Beckett pitched a no-hitter after undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. Anderson’s fresh start with the Dodgers could very well spark a successful re-establishment to his career which began in victorious style.