Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Signed LHP Brett Anderson to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.
The Cubs turned to Anderson after their pursuit of Tyson Ross came up empty. Anderson is a savvy addition for Chicago because he will fit the team’s needs neatly. His job won’t be to carry the back of the rotation, but rather to extend it when needed.
The glaring question is his health, but Anderson won’t be called upon to shoulder a lot of innings. If he's able to remain intact enough to spot start or lengthen the Cubs' rotation during a stretch of the regular season, this signing is a win. It’s the kind of move that works out well because it costs the Cubs virtually nothing and their risk level is very low. Anderson will not bump Mike Montgomery to the bullpen—and he shouldn’t—but he's the kind of starting pitching depth the Cubs have been seeking all winter.
Because of the extensive injury history, intentionally limited use will serve him well and will benefit the other five starters on the team. Anderson stands his best chance to remain available if his starts can be spread apart anyway, so looking for him to hit more than 100 innings might not be reasonable. He has logged at least that many in a season only three times in his career, so that should be a reasonable threshold for 2017. Again, his biggest benefit to the team will be his ability to help preserve the rest of the rotation.
Injury questions aside, the upside when he's on the mound comes from an impressive ground-ball rate. In 2015, the last time he logged a full season, Anderson coaxed ground balls 67 percent of the time. His sinker predictably yields the most grounders, but both his changeup and slider can get the job done at respectable rates as well. His slider is his strongest pitch and the one he will throw most often to finish an at-bat, favoring it just slightly against right-handed hitters.
His 2015 ground-ball rate was exorbitant, but his career average does sit at 59 percent. That number, especially in front of the Cubs' elite infield defense, will be his bread and butter. Outside of that ground-ball rate, Anderson’s numbers can get pedestrian, but a cavalcade of injuries have made it nearly impossible to get a representative picture of his capabilities.
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