How Has Chase Anderson Become the Brewers’ Best Pitcher?

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Chase Anderson

Milwaukee Brewers’ starting pitcher Chase Anderson reached the major leagues in 2014, at the relatively old age of 26, and has mostly been a slightly worse than average pitcher since then (ERA+ of 93, 96, and 97 in 2014, 2015, and 2016 respectively). In 2017, he has been the Brewers’ ace, putting up a 2.86 ERA (154 ERA+) with 1.212 WHIP in six starts, although he has only made it past the sixth inning in one of those starts. So far this season, the righty has had a fairly strong platoon split, with left-handed batters putting up an .816 OPS against him, while right-handers have a .599 OPS. This split is new; in 2016, he had an equally strong reverse split, with lefties OPSing .670 and righties OPSing .930 against him.

What he throws. Anderson throws a four-seam fastball (“FF”) and a two-seam fastball (“FT”), both with decent but unexceptional velocity (averaging 91.6 mph for each). He also features a changeup (“CH”) and a curve (“CU”). In 2016 he introduced a cutter (“FC”) into his repertoire, and so far in 2017 he has been using the cutter more extensively than in last season

Usage and trends. Anderson has changed his repertoire fairly significantly during the past couple of years. Although he introduced a cutter in 2016, he didn’t seem very confident in it, only using it about 5.2% of the time overall, almost never showing it to left-handed batters, and abandoning the pitch almost completely after mid-July. So far in 2017, however, he has been using his cutter more extensively (10.3%) and using it to both left- and right-handed batters (8.7% and 11.2% of pitches respectively). In 2017, he has also increased the use of his two-seam fastball and reduced his four-seam and changeup, compared to 2016. He also has reduced his curve usage to left-handed batters (7.4% of pitches, compared to 19.2% of pitches to righties):

It might be worth noting that in Anderson’s last start, on May 4, he only lasted 4 ⅔ innings and gave up 4 earned runs on seven hits and three walks — his worst start of the season so far — and his velocity was distinctly down on all of his pitches:

Pitch value. To this point in 2017, Anderson’s cutter has been very good to both right- and left-handed batters; the pitch has yielded a total of one hit (a single to left-handed batter Kolten Wong on May 4). His two-seam and changeup have also been above-average pitches, while his four-seam has been just about average. His curve has shown the largest platoon split this season, yielding a dismaying 22.2 total bases per 100 pitches to left-handed batters but only 3.75 TB/100 to righties, explaining why he has gone to his curve so little against lefties:

Pitch location. Anderson has not significantly changed his pitch location between 2016 and 2017. His four-seam fastball is targeted within the strike zone, but without a specific focus, to left- and right-handed batters. His two-seam fastball ends up down and in to righties, down and away to left-handed batters, while his cutter does exactly the opposite. His changeup and curve both tend to target the bottom of the strike zone or just below it:


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Featured image courtesy of John Minchillo/AP Photo.

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Ian is an immunologist and virologist who lives in Atlanta with his wife and two sons. Most of his time is spent driving his kids to baseball and soccer games, during which he indoctrinates his children on the glories of Pedro Martinez, the many virtues of the Montreal Expos, and other important information.

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