With the way the Diamondbacks have hit the ball in 2015, everyone knows that the pressure will be on the team to improve the pitching staff. That was a concern heading into the 2015 campaign and acquiring Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster and Jeremy Hellickson served as more of a band-aid than a solution. Robbie Ray’s earned his spot, Patrick Corbin’s got one locked up and I’d be a total shock to not see Archie Bradley in the Opening Day rotation, too. That’s three spots, plus Aaron Blair will be pushing for one. Arizona is likely to add at least one quality starting pitcher over the winter, putting Chase Anderson in a precarious position for 2016.
Believe it or not, he’s been the team’s second most-valuable starter this season. Anderson showed a glimpse of what he is capable of in a tough no decision against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Going six strong, he racked up a career high ten strikeouts while yielding just one earned run. It was the kind of dominant performance that’s been missing in 2015 from any starter, at least with any kind of regularity. But then again, it’s not like Chase has exactly been a model of consistency, and that’s sort of the problem. Using Game Score as a quick-and-dirty measurement, take a look at Anderson’s work this season:
After a relatively good first two months, he’s simply been all over the place. It would appear that he’s run out of gas as the season’s worn on. The team has tried to shelter him by skipping some starts and sending him to AAA, although they brought him right back up a day later in The Great Jeremy Hellickson Injury Debacle. Even his three best starts of the year post-May (6/12, 8/7, 9.23) have seen Anderson get extra rest prior to making his next turn. Maybe the extra time has really helped him, because when he’s on, he’s really good. Here’s Chip Hale, via Nick Piecoro, following Anderson’s start Wednesday:
“I thought he threw as well as we’ve seen him, as well as probably early in the year when he was dominated,” Hale said. “It was really good to see, especially after not being out there in competition for a while.”
Obviously Chase was sharp and it showed. But can he carry that forward into 2016 and can the Diamondbacks count on him? That remains to be seen.
One thing he has going for him is that he’s still cheap. He’ll play 2016 at the league minimum for the last time and that might be a big part of the team deciding to part with guys like Hellickson and Jhoulys Chacin while possibly pushing De La Rosa to the bullpen, a role I think he’s best-suited for. The team has a lot of decisions to make in the pitching department and Anderson is certainly one of those. He appears to be a capable back-end starter who can pitch like a mid-rotation guy on a good day. While that’s not sexy, it’s something on which every team relies.
Game’s like Wednesday are important, but it’s the body of work that Anderson will be evaluated on. The second half hasn’t gone according to plan for him, but perhaps he’s done enough over the course of 2016 to be considered a strong candidate for the #4 or #5 job. If he can just find some consistency, he could really take off. That sounds like a guy worth keeping in your rotation for the league minimum.
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