At one point, the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation was supposed to consist of Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Bronson Arroyo, Brandon McCarthy, and Trevor Cahill. All signs pointed to Randall Delgado being the sixth starter. Unfortunately, things have not gone according to plan. As July begins, nine different pitchers have started a game this season for the Diamondbacks. Only Miley and McCarthy remain from the original five. Things haven’t gone according to plan.

A few months ago, I wrote about the prevalence of injuries to starting pitchers and the need for starting pitching depth. On average, sixth starters are needed 78% of the time, and seventh starters are needed 22% of the time. But those calculations are not considering instances where starting pitchers are replaced due to ineffectiveness. Unfortunately for the D-backs, that has happened this year as well.

All of this turmoil has put multiple pitchers in different roles. Josh Collmenter has been thrust back into the starting rotation. Randall Delgado has become entrenched as a member of the bullpen. We’ve even seen Trevor Cahill attempt to pitch from the bullpen. Even though the injuries and bad performances have been unfortunate, they have allowed us to see players in new roles, which gives us new information about those pitchers. One of those pitchers has been Chase Anderson. For the first time, he’s had an extended stint in the major leagues.

Chase Anderson was called up on May 6, and has been here even since. He throws a four-seam fastball, sinking fastball, changeup, and curveball. The righty’s stuff won’t overpower hitters, his fastball is in the low 90’s, but his changeup was rated the best in the Diamondbacks system. Bob Brenly even called it a plus plus pitch.  Anderson’s early-season statistics will give us an idea as to whether he’s got enough to stick in the major leagues.

The old school stats look good for Anderson; he’s 5-3 with a 3.63 ERA. The bad news is, he’s given a good deal of home runs. There have been eight in 44.2 innings. His worrisome 4.98 FIP is largely a product of those home runs, and his 3.98 xFIP is much more reasonable. His LOB% has been near league-average, meaning he hasn’t been lucky or unlucky in that regard. Even though he’s not a hard-thrower, Anderson has been able to strike out batters at a good rate, with an 18.2 K%. That’s just below league-average for starting pitchers. Similarly, Chase is walking about 7.5% of the batters he faces, which is also below league average.

One thing that immediately jumps out is his lack of success against right-handed batters. The sample size is small, but they have a .304 average and are slugging over .600. Lefties slug .338. I had a suspicion that Anderson used his pitches differently against righties. Indeed, Chase throws his effective changeup 14.17% of the time against right-handed batters and 22.88% of the time against lefties. Instead, he uses his curveball more often against righties. He also throws the sinker 32.77% of the time to lefties, but only about 15% of the time to righties. He tends to use his four-seamer more often with righties.

Naturally, this led me to look at which pitches right-handed batters were having success against. They’re slugging an astonishing .816 against Anderson’s four-seam fastball. Against his sinker, they’re only slugging .435. It’s not like the batters are getting lucky either—55.88% of the four-seamers put into play by right-handed batters are line drives. That is leaps and bounds beyond what is acceptable for a pitcher. Again, the sinker is faring much better. Only 26.09% of the sinkers in play from righties have been line drives.

The four-seam fastball has explained Anderson’s propensity for giving up home runs, and it has explained his lack of success against right-handed batters. The solution seems simple: throw more sinkers and less four-seam fastballs. He’s not really succeeding against right-handed batters, so there doesn’t seem to be much to lose. I can’t say whether I’d completely scrap the four-seamer, but it certainly does not need to be thrown almost half of the time to righties. The sinker has been moderately successful even against righties.

Anderson probably doesn’t like to throw his sinker against righties because it moves away from them. He’s afraid the movement will run into the barrel of their bats. Well, so far the four-seamer has been running into the barrel of their bats way too often, so it’s time to give something else a try. At this rate, it may be hard for Chase Anderson to stick as a major-league starter. But if he changes up his pitch usage, he may have a chance.



One Response to Chase Anderson Needs to Throw More Sinkers

  1. […] in June, RG examined Chase Anderson’s repertoire, explaining how Anderson had had success in some ways,…. I won’t re-tread that ground, but a new trend has emerged that I wanted to share. Before […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.