Chris Anderson’s late-season improvement reason for optimism

Earlier this season, I wrote a #notascout scouting report on Dodgers’ 2013 first-round pick Chris Anderson. It wasn’t the most glowing report I’ve ever written. But, Anderson’s resurgence in the last month should give Dodger fans some hope for the hard-thrower.

Since his July 20 start, Anderson has been pretty good:

41 IP
47 H
15 R
15 ER
15 BB
39 K
3.29 ERA

The hits are too high, but considering where he was earlier this year, it’s an improvement. The biggest improvement has come with his walk rate. Through his July 13 start, he had a 4.8 BB/9. Since then, it’s 3.3. That doesn’t sound great, but he’s trending in the right direction. If you want to break it down even further, Anderson has been lights out in his last three starts: 20 innings pitched, 19 hits, 3 walks, 27 strikeouts, 2.25 ERA.

The Dodgers made some mechanical changes with Anderson’s delivery a couple months ago, which could account for the improvement. One thing that hasn’t changed is his velocity. When I saw him in person, he was sitting at 93-96 MPH and topped out at 99 MPH. Friday night, Anderson hit 97 MPH a few times. As a pitcher who will live off his fastball, this is encouraging. He also has improved his off-speed pitches as the season has progressed. His slider will always be his go-to secondary offering, but his changeup has improved to the point where it could be a usable third pitch.

Anderson’s struggles through most of the season were discouraging. He checked in at No. 9 on my midseason prospect list. Not great, but not where you’d expect a hard-throwing college starter to place during his first full season. Despite the struggles, he has still been able to strike out more than a batter per inning (or, 9.6 K/9). He has also done a good job of keeping the ball in the ballpark (0.7 HR/9).

The environment has impacted Anderson’s performance, and I’m sure he’ll love getting out of the California League. Because he’s a young 22 (just turned 22 on July 29), I could see him going back to Rancho Cucamonga to begin next season, but the Dodgers are known for being aggressive with their pitching prospects. The real barometer of Anderson’s future will come next season (at some point) at Double-A Chattanooga.

All is not lost for Anderson. If he continues to show improved control next season, he could reach his potential of a No. 3 starter (or a really low-end No. 2 starter). He’s following the path of Chris Withrow. For the Dodgers’ sake, it’d be better if he didn’t follow Withrow into the bullpen.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He does contracts and depth charts for FanGraphs and is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a one-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, California, and has yet to be shot.