Raise your hand if you were underwhelmed after the Los Angeles Dodgers spent a combined $16 million on Andrew Heaney and Tyler Anderson. We sure were!
With the potential pitching losses on the horizon at the time, signing Heaney after a career-worst season felt deflating. Adding Anderson a week after the lockout didn’t exactly create much hype, either. These were both ~4.50 ERA pitchers joining a pitching staff that typically breeds excellence, not mediocrity.
But, specifically in the case of Anderson, he’s joined the Dodgers’ pitching factory and has seamlessly fit right in. Across his first eight games (six starts), the left-hander is a perfect 5-0 with a 3.30 ERA, 3.45 FIP and 1.01 WHIP across 43.2 innings pitched. He leads the NL with 1.0 BB/9 and an 8.40 K/BB ratio.
What’s even more impressive about that? He welcomed whatever role the Dodgers were willing to give him dependent upon how the pitching staff shook out before Opening Day.
He started the 2022 season in the bullpen because Heaney preferred a spot in the starting rotation, and Anderson’s now made six straight starts due to injuries. LA has won four of the last five games he’s pitched.
Tyler Anderson has benefitted from the Dodgers’ pitching factory
Anderson, before the start of 2022, never had a season in which he’d registered an ERA below 4.35 since his rookie campaign back in 2016. That year, he finished with a 3.54 mark in 19 starts. He’s never had a strikeout-to-walk ratio above 3.69. His 123 ERA+ is his best mark (by far), also since his rookie year.
What differences can be attributed here? Well, for one, he’s under much better care being analyzed by Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior as well as the analytically-driven front office that more than likely provides helpful relevant stats/info to the coaching staff after such signings.
So far, Anderson’s seen a decrease — up until this point — in year-over-year pitching percentages with his fastball and cutter. He’s throwing his fastball 5.6% less and his cutter 1.9% less. On the contrary, he’s increased his curveball (0.9%) and changeup (7.5%) usage from 2021.
It’s clear the Dodgers spotted a major storyline in his offerings, because so far he’s thrown his fastball at a career-low rate and his changeup at a near career-high rate. His eight shutout innings against the Nationals on Monday night were littered with highlights of his filthy changeup (as well as strategic locations with his fastball).
Will this sustain? We have no idea. But the trends are encouraging and further go to show that the Dodgers continue to successfully sign middle-of-the-road arms and transform them into above-average producers for, at the very least, decent stretches of any given season.