Diamondbacks @ Dodgers April 20, 2014: No Beckett Marathon Please

beckett_2014-03-08

Josh Beckett takes the hill for the Dodgers today, and while he threw five scoreless innings against the Giants in his last outing, the Dodgers will be looking for a more efficient performance this time around. The five walks he surrendered in his last outing ran his pitch count high and also put him at danger for the big inning, though he was fortunate enough to escape trouble. Most importantly, we should all be rooting for him not to struggle so that we don’t die of old age watching this game. Against the D-Backs, Beckett has a career 3.90 ERA in nine starts and 57.2 innings.

Beckett’s opponent will be Josh Collmenter, who moves between relief and starting duties for the D-Backs. Collmenter has a career 4.08 ERA as a starter and a 2.49 ERA as a reliever, so while he’s solid in the rotation the D-Backs would probably prefer if he was allowed to stay in the pen. Collmenter has a 5.06 ERA against the Dodgers in 32 innings for his career, including giving up a run in an inning of relief against the Dodgers down in Australia.

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DBacks
Dodgers 
1:10pm PT
Los Angeles, CA
CF
Parra
2B
Gordon
SS
Pennington
LF
Crawford
1B
Goldschmidt
SS
Ramirez
C
Montero
1B
Gonzalez
2B
Hill
RF
Puig
3B
Chavez
CF
Ethier
LF
Trumbo
3B
Uribe
CF
Pollock
C
Federowicz
P
Collmenter (R)
P
Beckett (R)

In important injury news that’s probably more important than the game, Clayton Kershaw faced hitters today in a simulated game to test his upper back injury further.

Apparently it’s still too early for a timetable, so all we can do is hope for is no major news, because major news would likely mean a setback of some sort.

=====

In unfortunate minor league news, the Dodgers released Angelo Songco, who some of you may remember was once a decently promising prospect.

Songco broke out in 2011, putting up a .313/.367/.581/.948 line with 29 homers in high-A during his age 22 season. Songco was a bit older and lacked the impact tools to be a regular, but a continuation of his performance at AA could have continued his ascent in the system, so I was looking forward to his 2012 season against advanced pitching. However, he unfortunately needed a rod inserted into his leg in 2012 and never could get his stroke back.

Wed 4/16Thurs 4/17Fri 4/18Sat 4/19Sun 4/20Mon 4/21Tues 4/22
RJ. Dominguez25
LJ.P. Howell191715
RK. Jansen30161117
RB. League91727
RC. Perez32618
RB. Wilson2315
RC. Withrow2618
RJ. Wright1618

Statistics Are Stabilizing: Hitter Strikeout Rate

Reversing the strikeout trend

Reversing the strikeout trend

It’s pretty difficult to write the type of posts that I prefer to write this time of year. There’s only so many analysis-heavy posts that one can write while saying “this probably isn’t real because the sample size is too small.”

Statistics stabilize (meaning that what we’re seeing is more “true talent” than “random variance”) at different rates. This week, we crossed one of the first thresholds. Hitter strikeout rate takes about 60 plate appearances to stabilize. As of now, most of the healthy regulars are across that boundary (with the exception of Kemp, Crawford, and Turner). This is the first semblance of something real to look at, even if it’s only mildly predictive of a hitter’s final season total.

One thing that’s important to note before looking at individual players is that strikeout rate is up league-wide. Strikeout rate has been increasing steadily for years, but so far this season the average non-pitcher rate has taken a big jump. Last season, the league-wide strikeout rate was 19.3%. So far this season, it’s 20.3%. As Vin Scully said during last night’s broadcast, “today we have guys who strike out during the National Anthem.” A small uptick in a player’s strikeout rate would go along with this trend and wouldn’t be of much concern, but a large increase is still something to worry about.

Juan Uribe

Year PA K%
Career 5729 18.0%
2013 426 19.0%
2014 74 23.0%

Uribe has always been a free swinger, but this year he’s seen a 4% increase in strikeout rate. If his 1.3% walk rate (which needs another 46 plate appearances to stabilize) doesn’t rebound, he could be in trouble once his .415 BABIP regresses.

Dee Gordon

Year PA K%
Career 731 16.3%
2013 106 19.8%
2014 62 14.5%

Dee has seen the biggest reduction from last year of all of the Dodger regulars. With his skill set, it’s even more important that he puts the ball into play. A significant amount of this reduction is due to the fact that Gordon is being platooned. His career strikeout rates show the effect; he’s struck out 19.2% of the time against lefties and 15.1% of the time against right-handed pitchers. I’m still skeptical of his offense going forward, but the first “real” data that we have to look at is very positive.

Hanley Ramirez

Year PA K%
Career 4835 16.6%
2013 336 15.5%
2014 75 17.3%

Hanley’s strikeout rate is up by 1.8%, but the magnitude of the increase is similar to the increase that’s occurring around baseball. There isn’t much to be concerned about here.

Adrian Gonzalez

Year PA K%
Career 5750 17.5%
2013 641 15.3%
2014 79 24.1%

Gonzalez’ strikeout rate has increased significantly this season, though as long as he keeps a 157 wRC+ to go along with it there’s not a lot to worry about. Mike covered Adrian’s changing swing characteristics here. This is definitely something to keep an eye on, but so far current success outweighs the strikeout rate increase by itself.

Yasiel Puig

Year PA K%
2013 432 22.5%
2014 61 21.3%

So far this season, Puig’s overall offense has been pretty uninspiring. However, the only statistic that has enough plate appearances to be stable, strikeout rate, is showing positive things. A rate moving downwards while the league average has moved in the opposite direction is impressive. More impressive is his spike in walk rate, though he’s only halfway to the stabilization threshold there.

Andre Ethier

Year PA K%
Career 4598 17.1%
2013 426 19.0%
2014 62 22.6%

Ethier’s offense has been a complete mess this season (only a 69 wRC+ even after his home run yesterday). His strikeout rate jumping by that magnitude is concerning, especially since he’s getting more favorable platoon match-ups.

While some players are showing a nice rebound in strikeout rate, as a team the Dodgers’ rate is 4.7% higher than last year, an increase even sharper than the baseball-wide jump. Right now, they have the third highest non-pitcher strikeout rate behind the Astros and the Mets. It’s early enough in the season that there’s a chance it could rebound, but it’s worth keeping an eye on as the season moves forward.

Dodgers 8, D’Backs 6: Getting Late Early For Arizona

haren_2014-04-19

Depending on how you look at it, Dan Haren was great — he pitched into the eighth inning! He’s the first Dodger pitcher to do that this year, and struck out five without walking any — or lousy, because he fell behind 4-0 and gave up five runs, and only Hyun-jin Ryu gave up more in a start this year. I prefer to think of it as “good,” because only two of those runs were earned, thanks to a Hanley Ramirez error. Only twice did Haren even get to a three-ball count; outside of that messy third inning, only one Diamondback even reached second base against him. As we’ve been focusing on pretty much every other area of this team except for him, that probably says a lot: the less you talk about your supposed No. 4 starter, the better. The Dodgers have won each of his four starts. He’s been everything you could have hoped for so far.

It helped, of course, that the Dodgers actually managed to put up some run support for once, scoring three in the fourth when Andre Ethier‘s three-run shot brought home Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp, then five times in the fifth as rookie starter Michael Bolsinger fell apart, allowing three consecutive singles to start the inning. (Not that he was helped; Martin Prado made an error on Ramirez’ grounder, then Oliver Perez came in to allow two-run hits to Gonzalez (single) and Kemp (double).

All of this would have been smooth sailing if not for Brian Wilson, who threw only 11 of his 23 pitches for strikes, allowed two hits and a walk, brought the tying run to the plate, and refused to throw inside. Ever. Fortunately, he got through it and handed it off to Kenley Jansen, who quietly got through the ninth.

The Diamondbacks are 5-15. Six of those losses are to the Dodgers. They’re already seven games out. I cannot say this displeases me.

Diamondbacks @ Dodgers April 19, 2014: Bolsinger?

dodger_stadium_openingday2013Tonight’s game against the Diamondbacks will at least have an interesting start. The Diamondbacks’ starter is Michael Bolsinger, who I’d never heard of before this week. Bolsinger was called up to replace the struggling Trevor Cahill and is being tasked with helping to fix the Diamondbacks’ rotation. So far this season, Diamondbacks starters have a 7.26 ERA, nearly two runs worse than the closest team. That includes Wade Miley‘s one run performance last night.

Bolsinger isn’t really a prospect, but is a 26 year old pitcher making his first career start. In his first career major league game earlier this week, he allowed two runs in three relief innings. The most notable thing about Bolsinger might be that he isn’t top prospect Archie Bradley, which stirred up a bit of controversy earlier this week. From the Diamondbacks’ point of view, calling up Bradley for a season like this (and starting his service time clock) doesn’t make a lot of sense. Nick Piecoro of Azcentral Sports has a good interview with Bolsinger here.

DBacks
Dodgers 
5:10pm PT
Los Angeles, CA
CF
Parra
2B
Gordon
2B
Hill
LF
Crawford
1B
Goldschmidt
SS
Ramirez
C
Montero
1B
Gonzalez
RF
Ross
CF
Kemp
3B
Prado
RF
Ethier
LF
Trumbo
3B
Uribe
SS
Owings
C
Butera
P
Bolsinger (R)
P
Haren (R)

With a rookie starter going, it’s worth looking up how well the Dodgers have done against pitchers as new as Bolsinger. The perception among many fans is that the team generally has trouble hitting brand new pitchers. Since 2010, the Dodgers have faced a starter throwing his first or second career game ten times (the most recent was Mike Kickham last year). In those ten games, the Dodgers have scored 30 runs in 52-2/3 innings. That doesn’t really match the perception, and could be good news for the struggling offense.

Facing Bolsinger is more or less the standard right-handed pitcher lineup (Drew Butera gets the start at catcher), with one notable exception: Yasiel Puig has the night off. With the current outfield rotation, and since Ethier and Crawford have started the last two games on the bench, the choice of who to sit today came down to Puig or Matt Kemp. Of those two, I really think that the playing time is more important for Puig, so Mattingly’s decision is a bit puzzling.

After a busy night for the bullpen (as shown below this post), it’s important that Dan Haren makes it deep into this game. He looked pretty shaky during his last start, which was also against the Diamondbacks. Haren did make it nearly six innings, but it took 110 pitches to get there and he allowed five runs and six extra-base hits.

Tonight’s game will be televised on Fox Sports 1 (in addition to SNLA), which is good news for those of you without Time Warner. I also really enjoy the earlier start times on Saturday, though I’m sure we’ll hear about shadows a few times at the beginning of the game.

According to Eric Stephen, Clayton Kershaw will throw to hitters tomorrow. The team still hasn’t set a timetable for Kershaw’s return or rehab starts, but it seems that he’s progressing nicely.

Wed 4/16Thurs 4/17Fri 4/18Sat 4/19Sun 4/20Mon 4/21Tues 4/22
RJ. Dominguez25
LJ.P. Howell191715
RK. Jansen30161117
RB. League91727
RC. Perez32618
RB. Wilson2315
RC. Withrow2618
RJ. Wright1618

Catching Nothing But Grief

federowicz_2014-04-17

It’s been a tough few games for Dodger catchers, but then again, it’s been a tough season for Dodger catchers. Tim Federowicz not only went 0-5 in the loss to Arizona, he let the go-ahead run score when he couldn’t handle Chris Withrow‘s wild intentional walk throw (which, to be fair, is largely on Withrow as well), let another Withrow pitch get past him — his second Withrow passed ball in four days — and then ended his night by taking a ball off the groin after committing catcher’s interference against Paul Goldschmidt.

I’m not writing an entire post about Federowicz’ night, because Eric Stephen already did that, and he did it well. But what it does make me need to do is point out just how ineffective the Dodger backstops have been over the first few weeks of the season. Here’s how the three catchers have performed at the plate:

A.J. Ellis: 29 PA, .167/.310/.167 53 wRC+
Federowicz: 29 PA, .074/.107/.111 -42 wRC+ (not a typo!)
Drew Butera: 11 PA, .200/.273/.200 40 wRC+

Immediately, this is unfair, and I know that. Ellis more than likely was affected by his knee before he actually had surgery, and judging the second and third catchers against the first and second catchers of other clubs isn’t really fair, in addition to these being minuscule sample sizes.

But… 

MLB catching stats by team:
1) Reds — .375.438/.643 187 wRC+
2) Brewers — .350/.435/.500 161 wRC+
MLB AVG — .248/.316/.396 99 wRC+
29) Nationals — .161/.224/.258 29 wRC+
30) Dodgers — .131/.221/.148 11 wRC+

Right there, you can see how much losing your starting catcher hurts, because Washington lost Wilson Ramos on Opening Day, forcing them to go with Jose Lobaton and Sandy Leon. And we knew that Butera was never going to hit, and we were pretty certain that Federowicz wouldn’t either. They haven’t, and this team wasn’t built around requiring offense from behind the plate, so it’s just a disappointment, not a surprise.

But what is disappointing is what’s happening on defense. Butera has built an entire career around being a superb defensive catcher, but pitch framing just hates him. Federowicz is here almost entirely because he’s supposedly a solid defensive catcher, but we’ve seen several times in the last week alone where he’s cost the team back there — and framing doesn’t love him either. As catchers across the sport are hitting better than ever, the black hole from behind the plate in Los Angeles looks even worse, and the seeming lack of defensive value isn’t helping.

The good news? Ellis is progressing well in his return from surgery, participating in all baseball activities other than running, and it seems like he may be back on the low end of the original four-to-six week estimate. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it can’t happen soon enough.

Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 2: A tale of two games, but still a loss

greinke_zack_ST 3.12.14

This game was pretty tame and boring until the ninth inning. The game was tied at one on the strength of solo home runs by Miguel Montero and Scott Van Slyke.

After that, it was like an entirely different game. Chris Withrow did this:

That would have been a hell of a way to lose a game. Luckily, Withrow was bailed out by everyone’s favorite Uribear.

Love you, Juan Uribe.

Unfortunately, temporary closer Chris Perez gave up two runs off the bat of Aaron Hill in the 12th inning to give the Diamondbacks a 4-2 win against the Dodgers.

Zack Greinke pitched well, despite not being terribly efficient with his pitches (105 pitches, 68 strikes in six innings). He gave up three hits, a run, two walks (his first since his season debut) and struck out a season-high eight batters. However, the home run bug bit him again, as he gave up a home run to Miguel Montero in the sixth inning. Thankfully, it was only a solo shot. But it was the fifth homer he’s allowed this season in 22 1/3 innings. Last season, he didn’t give up his fifth home run until June 27. Not sure what it means — other than a higher-than-average FIP — but it’s something to watch going forward.

The Dodgers didn’t do anything to help Greinke out, as they didn’t get their fourth hit off Diamondbacks’ starter Wade Miley until the fourth inning. They did draw five walks against Miley (seven walks total, including three by Yasiel Puig), but they couldn’t cash in any of them. They struck out eight times (11 times total), continuing their trend of not putting the ball in play — they’re seventh in baseball in highest strikeout percentage.

Kirk Gibson let Miley go back out for the seventh inning, and he promptly gave up a then game-tying homer to Van Slyke. Miley was already at 106 pitches through six innings and had his best outing of the season, but Gibson pressed it — and paid the price.

Oh, and this:

So, thanks for that, Gibby, even if it didn’t result in a victory.

Game 2 of the series is Saturday at 5:10 p.m. Pacific time. Mike Bolsinger (I know, who?) faces off against Dan Haren.

Diamondbacks @ Dodgers April 18, 2014: Hanley Lives

dodger_stadium_openingday2013Tonight, Zack Greinke makes his fourth start for the Dodgers this season. So far, he has pitched very well, only allowing five runs in 16-1/3 innings. his peripherals have been very interesting. In his first three starts, he’s struck out 21 batters and walked just two. Both walks came in his first start of the year; he’s faced 50 batters (and struck out 17 of them) since he allowed his last walk.

Greinke’s FIP is higher than you’d expect (4.03, above the league average), since he’s given up four home runs. However, the high home run rate isn’t because Greinke is throwing more pitches in the strike zone. So far this season, he’s thrown 41.2% of his pitches into the Pitch F/X strike zone, almost identical to his 2012 and 2013 rates. The biggest peripheral difference is that Greinke is inducing a lot more swings on pitches outside of the strike zone (38.6%, compared to a career rate of 26.8%), and batters are making contact less often overall (71% contact rate this season, career rate is 79.5%).

DBacks
Dodgers 
7:10pm PT
Los Angeles, CA
RF
Parra
RF
Puig
2B
Hill
2B
Turner
1B
Goldschmidt
SS
Ramirez
C
Montero
1B
Gonzalez
LF
Ross
CF
Kemp
3B
Prado
LF
Van Slyke
SS
Owings
3B
Uribe
CF
Pollock
C
Federowicz
P
Miley (L)
P
Greinke (R)

Greinke’s high home run rate seems a bit like luck, and stats that adjust for it love what he has done so far. xFIP adjusts Greinke’s HR/FB rate from 30.8% down to the league average (around 11%), which results in a stellar value of 1.94. After adjusting for park, his xFIP is third in baseball, behind Masahiro Tanaka and Felix Hernandez. Since his line drive rate is down and his ground ball rate is up, his SIERA (which uses batted ball characteristics to estimate ERA) is 2.02, which is also third best in the majors behind the same pitchers.

In lineup news, Hanley Ramirez is alive! Given how bad the injury looked when it happened, it’s pretty amazing that he missed just one game. Hopefully the medical staff isn’t rushing him back before he’s ready, but for once it feels like the team was lucky on a potential injury. This allows the Dodgers to re-establish the second base platoon, so Dee Gordon gets the night off against lefty Wade Miley. Greinke’s last two games have been caught by Drew Butera, but tonight Tim Federowicz starts in his place.

On the Diamondbacks side, Cody Ross returns from the disabled list and gets the start in left field. Ross dislocated his hip last year. Mark Trumbo gets the night off (and has gone 3-for-36 in the past week).

Below, you’ll notice the return of a feature that was present on Mike’s old site: the bullpen usage chart. You can also find it here. Many thanks to reader/commenter ABSmileBunch for maintaining the chart!

Wed 4/16Thurs 4/17Fri 4/18Sat 4/19Sun 4/20Mon 4/21Tues 4/22
RJ. Dominguez25
LJ.P. Howell191715
RK. Jansen30161117
RB. League91727
RC. Perez32618
RB. Wilson2315
RC. Withrow2618
RJ. Wright1618

Down On The Farm Update: Games Of 4/8 – 4/14

pederson_joc ST 3.13.14

Sorry for the delay in this update, but basically Joc Pederson hits all of the baseballs.

April 8

Hitter Of The Day: Joc Pederson (AAA) stayed hot going 2-for-3 with a double, a homer, and a walk. Though I guess it’s not technically a hot streak if his entire year is a hot streak.

Pitcher Of The Day: Yimi Garcia (AAA) pitched two innings of one-hit ball and struck out four. I honestly think he’ll prove ready of a shot in the MLB sooner than later.

Notables

Chris Anderson (A+) couldn’t make it five innings, but did look better. Anderson struck out six and allowed just an unearned run on five hits and three walks in 4.2 innings.

Jesmuel Valentin (A) went 1-for-2 with a walk and two stolen bases. Bat is a question, but he’s off to a solid start.

April 9

Hitter Of The Day: Corey Seager (A+) collected four hits in six trips, along with two doubles. Almost three years younger than the league average, and he’s doing well.

Pitcher Of The Day: Victor Arano (A) pitched 2.2 scoreless innings and is showing no signs that this level is too much for him.

Notables

Stephen Fife (AAA) lasted just 3.1 innings and gave up seven runs on nine hits. I understand he looked okay in the MLB during his short stints there, but he looks atrocious right now. Whether that’s the constant shoulder injuries taking a toll or what, I dunno.

Julio Urias (A) gave up two hits, two walks, two wild pitches, and struck out two in just 1.2 innings of one-run ball. Urias was removed for precautionary reasons after being struck in the chest by a liner.

April 10

Hitter Of The Day: Joey Curletta (A) is on fire, going 3-for-4 with a double. The over-the-wall power is there even if it’s not showing right now, and he’s pounding doubles.

Pitcher Of The Day: Pedro Baez (AA) is serving as the closer and thriving so far, posting his second save and striking out one in his flawless inning of work. Baez isn’t far from being ready either.

Notables

Alex Santana (A) went 2-for-4 with two doubles but also struck out twice, and he’s off to a slow start.

Zachary Bird (A) … why? He gave up seven runs (six earned) in 3.1 innings on five hits and two walks. He struck out two but his ERA was over 11 after this start. Sigh.

April 11

Hitter Of The Day: Chris Reed (AA) struck out nine over six innings of work, giving up two runs on two hits and two walks. When he can get ahead with his fastball, he looks like this. It’s a matter of how often he has command.

Pitcher Of The Day: Jacob Scavuzzo (A) goes 2-for-3 with two walks. The more he continues to produce away from Ogden, the more I believe in his tools.

Notables

Zach Lee (AAA) pitched 5.2 innings of one-run ball, striking out three and walking one.

Corey Seager (A+) collected two hits in four trips, including a triple.

Tom Windle (A+) posted another quality start, surrendering just an unearned run in six innings with six strikeouts and no walks. Doesn’t quite have the upside, but he’s polished, and even if he doesn’t make it as a starter, he should have a future in relief.

April 12

Hitter Of The Day: Joc Pederson (AAA) went 2-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Of course.

Pitcher Of The Day: Jose Dominguez (AAA) took the loss in his inning, giving up a walk and two hits. But he struck out three, once again showing superior stuff.

Notables

*Yawn*

April 13

Hitter Of The Day: Alex Guerrero (AAA) wanted to remind you that he still exists, and he did so by going 3-for-4 with a double and homer in his season debut in the minors.

Pitcher Of The Day: Red Patterson (AAA) started and went six innings while only giving up a run and striking out four. Patterson may have a future as a reliever, and I liked him in that role during Spring Training.

Notables

Scott Schebler (AA) grabbed another goose egg in four trips, striking out three times. Off to a rough start against advanced pitching.

Chris Anderson (A+) only lasted 3.1 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on FIVE walks and four hits while striking out four.

Jacob Scavuzzo (A) and Joey Curletta (A) went 3-for-7 and 4-for-7, respectively, in the team’s doubleheader. Both had a double each, and Scavuzzo also had a walk.

April 14

Hitter Of The Day: Alex Guerrero (AAA) struck again, going 3-for-3 with a homer and a walk. However, he also made an error, which I think is the primary worry anyway. Personally, I’m not totally sold on his bat yet, but most think he’ll hit. It’s the glove that’s a question.

Pitcher Of The Day: Julio Urias (A) gave up five runs and eight baserunners in 4.1 innings but struck out six. Hitters are not intimidating him at all, as his strikeout rate is great. It’s just that his command so far has resembled more a typical teenager than what we’ve come to expect from him.

Notables

Joc Pederson (AAA) went 2-for-4. Another day at AAA for him.

Stephen Fife (AAA) lasted just four innings, allowing 12 baserunners, and four runs (three earned). That meant his ERA plummeted to 11.91.

Darnell Sweeney (AA) went 3-for-4 with a homer but is off to a slow start with the bat. That said, he has more walks than strikeouts, and plate discipline was a primary concern, so he should be fine if he keeps this up.

Dodgers’ prospect scouting report April 2014: Chris Anderson

anderson_chris_quakes_4.13.14

While Julio Urias is one of the most prized pitching prospects in the California League, the Dodgers also have the likes of 2013 draftees Tom Windle and Chris Anderson.

I was able to see Anderson’s April 13 outing in Modesto against the Rockies’ High-A affiliate, the Nuts.

The wind was blow out to right field for most of the afternoon, and he might have been aided by the wind. Anderson gave up quite a few hard-hit balls and fly balls, despite having a heavy fastball prime for getting grounders. That surprised me a bit.

Editor’s note: I am not a scout (#notascout). This is an amateur scouting report based on what I know about baseball and from following the sport all my life. I don’t claim to be a pro, I just want to pass along the information to the masses. All ratings in the charts below are on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is roughly average, 80 is elite and nearly unattainable (think an Aroldis Chapman fastball), and 20 is unacceptably poor. Enjoy.

How he got here

Anderson, 21, was the Dodgers’ first-round selection (18th overall) in the 2013 MLB Draft out of Jacksonville University. The native Minnesotan signed for the slot-recommended amount of $2,109,900.

Early in the draft season, Anderson was a projected Top-10 pick despite pitching for a relatively small college in Florida. However, overuse caused his performance to suffer, which also caused his draft slot to suffer.

He debuted at Low-A Great Lakes last season, and performed relatively well. He was elevated to High-A Rancho Cucamonga for the 2014 season.

Vitals

B/T: R/R
Height: 6’4
Weight: 215
DOB: 7/29/1992

Repertoire

4-seam fastball
2-seam fastball
Curveball
Slider
Changeup

If you like heat, this was the outing to see. Anderson threw primarily in his 90-pitch outing. He sat at 93-96 MPH, and topped out at 99 MPH. He struck out Rockies’ prospect Trevor Story on a 98 MPH fastball in the first inning that was awfully impressive. He threw only fastballs in the inning.

He didn’t throw the 2-seamer a lot in this outing, as his fastball was up in the zone a lot with just a little arm-side run. But he didn’t get a ton of movement as the Nuts squared up more fastballs than expected for loud contact.

Anderson’s bugaboo is his control and command. It came and went (mostly went) in this outing, as he walked five hitters in his 3 1/3 innings, including three in the fourth inning. Me missed his location a lot — up and away to lefties and outside to righties.

The first breaking pitch he threw was his curveball. It sat at 80-81 MPH and topped out at 83 MPH. He threw a couple of good ones — including one in a 1-1 count that stole him a strike. He threw it sparingly (seven times) and it flashed average potential. It featured a sharp 11-5 break, but it wasn’t to be confused with his slider.

His slider was an 85-87 MPH offering that topped out at 88 MPH. It had some cutter-like action, but the shape of it wasn’t always consistent. He threw one really sharp one, a few flat ones and a few that looked like cutters. On his first slider, his arm slowed noticeably — something he’ll have to improve as he moves up the ranks. It flashed solid-average potential, but it’s also been said it’s his best off-speed pitch. On this day, his curveball was the better of the two breakers.

He didn’t throw his changeup in this outing, which is somewhat surprising to me as it was supposed to be his clear No. 3 pitch. But his fastball was the star of the day — when he threw it well.

Delivery

Like many early-round Dodger draftees of recent years, Anderson’s delivery is clean. When he begins his delivery, his body goes a little off-balance (just slightly) — kind of a rocking motion — before he explodes forward toward the plate. That could be a hindrance when it comes to repeating his delivery and arm slot.

He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot that is almost over-the-top (but not Zachary Bird over-the-top). He’s able to get some good downward plane on his pitches that should lead to a good sinking fastball down the road.

He tended to fly open with his front side, leading to command issues. His arm also dragged a bit, also leading to command issues.

He’s a big guy with a strong base, so having a clean delivery will benefit him greatly throughout his career.

Video

Here’s some video I shot of Anderson’s outing.

Grades

Tools Now Future
Fastball 50 65
Slider 45 50
Curveball 50 55
Changeup 50 55
Cmd/Ctrl 40 50
Delivery 55 60

Here’s how I would grade Anderson, in the table at right. His mullet graded out at plus-plus, as he flashed a 70 on this day.

Conclusion

Anderson impressed with his fastball and his better-than-expected velocity. The radar gun may have been a bit hot, but the Nuts’ starter was working in the mid-80s with his fastball, so it couldn’t have been that hot. His off-speed pitches need some work, and I’d like to see him incorporate his changeup more and either choose his slider or curveball to be his No. 2 pitch. He can be a 4-pitch pitcher, but command/control issues could lead to him scrapping a pitch.

He has the upside of a No. 2 starter, but he’s more likely a No. 3 or No. 4 starter. He reminds me a lot of Chris Withrow, and he could very well follow Withrow’s path if his command doesn’t improve. If he continues to miss his locations on a consistent basis, he could end up in the bullpen. If he does, he profiles as a late-inning, power reliever with the ability to close. Makeup and poise will determine whether he could be a future No. 2 starter or closer. But Anderson definitely has a future in the majors in some capacity.

Dodgers 2, Giants 1: Exhale

gonzalez_hits_bummgarner_2014-04-07

In between Yasiel Puig doing all the things that make him great – and don’t forget the out-of-nowhere catch that may have saved a run in the eighth inning – there was actually a baseball game today. I know! And once again, Hyun-jin Ryu is making people notice that the Dodgers have more than two outstanding starting pitchers. Ryu shut out the Giants on 112 pitches over seven innings, walking one and allowing four singles. That’s it.

If this sounds familiar, well, maybe it should. Ryu has now pitched three times on the road, and he’s allowed exactly zero runs in 26 innings against Arizona, San Diego, Arizona again, and San Francisco. His one game at home? Two innings, eight runs. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Other than, you know, nothing, probably. (Eric Stephen notes that Ryu is now the second Dodger in the last century with four straight road scoreless starts, joining Orel Hershiser.)

Also as usual: the Dodgers really, really needed Ryu to be good, because the offense was underwhelming. The Dodgers did get 11 men on base, including three doubles, yet somehow managed to get only two runs in, one on a Tim Federowicz single, and one on the Adrian Gonzalez single you see above to plate Scott Van SlykeMatt Kemp, disappointingly, went 0-4, but at least he made a sparkling catch in deep center field; Dee Gordon, getting a shot against lefty Madison Bumgarner because Justin Turner was pressed into service at shortstop to replace Hanley Ramirez, also went hitless. In the three games in San Francisco, the Dodgers scored five runs. It’s hard to win like that, and for the most part, they didn’t.

After Ryu, Brian Wilson came on in the eighth for the first time since returning from the disabled list and proceeded to scare the hell out of all of us, needing 28 pitches to get through the inning, allow a double to Ehire Adrianza and a walk to Hunter Pence. He did, however, touch 97, which is a good sign for a guy who just missed two weeks with elbow trouble, but only 15 of those 28 pitches were strikes.

And I suppose we can’t ignore Kenley Jansen, who also made it interesting by letting a run in, despite allowing just about nothing hard-hit. Jansen started off by striking out Mike Morse, which is great, except Morse still reached when Federowicz couldn’t handle the pitch. Jansen then blew away Hector Sanchez, but walked Gregor Blanco before allowing Adrianza to dink a dink into left field, scoring Morse. Mercifully, pinch-hitter Brandon Crawford flew out to end it. The Dodgers and Giants are now tied for first, with the Dodgers headed back home to welcome the putrid Diamondbacks tomorrow night. It’s fun just to type that.

Oh, and just in case you still think that Puig is the only player in the game who does dumb things: Gonzalez led off the eighth with a double, and after Kemp struck out, Van Slyke grounded to Jeremy Affeldt… who caught Gonzalez inexplicably hung up between second and third. As Gonzalez was being tagged out in the rundown, Van Slyke tried to sneak into second, getting tagged out as well for your traditional 1-6-5-4 double play. Puig absolutely does dumb things, don’t forget. No one’s saying he doesn’t. But so do other players. Lots of them.