Trying to find the Dodgers’ next Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney

With the Winter Meetings behind us and the Dodgers having been relatively inactive thus far, things are set to pickup, right?

Well, if you believe the chatter about the luxury tax being a barrier, then maybe not. They’ve signed just one free agent (Shelby Miller) and brought back their future Hall of Fame lefty (Clayton Kershaw) … and that’s it. They didn’t re-sign Trea Turner (as expected), didn’t sign Xander Bogaerts, Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander. Japanese sensation Koudai Senga signed with the Mets over the weekend, and hell, even Sean Manaea signed with the Giants (not that anyone wanted him to sign with the Dodgers anyway, but still). With them appearing to be out on Carlos Rodon and no clear trade targets, it appears they’re going to try to bolster the rotation by trying to find the next Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney.

As such, I’ve tried to identify current free agents who might make sense and why they might make sense. The surface numbers are going to look quite bad, but a deeper dive might show why the Dodgers could be interested in these hurlers.


The criteria was focusing on one or two things the pitchers below do well or perhaps underutilize, with the hope the Dodgers can get them to continue to do said thing well or utilize a pitch more. For example, Anderson limited exit velocity well prior to 2022 (86.7 MPH), but he was even better with the Dodgers (85 MPH). He also saw his changeup usage increase by 7 percentage points and saw his wOBA against drop by more than 100 points.

In Heaney’s case, the Dodgers had him completely ditch his curveball — a pitch he had thrown 18.8% of the time coming into 2022. Instead, the Dodgers had him throw his slider at a career-high 32.4% clip after throwing it 36 times from 2016 through ’21. Not 36%, 36 times total. And while he saw his exit velo against increase by almost a full mile per hour in ’22, he also established a career-best (by nearly 7 percentage points) 35.5 K%. Both pitchers landed multi-year deals on the open market.


RHP Dylan Bundy

Bundy, 30, since having a quasi-breakout season in 2020 with the Angels, has been pretty not great. He finished out a 2-year deal with Anaheim before signing a 1+1 deal with the Twins last winter. They declined his option, making him a free agent. in 230 2/3 innings, he posted an ugly 5.35 ERA, 5.00 FIP and an 11.7 K-BB%.

He isn’t a flamethrower by any means, as he averaged just 89.7 MPH on his fastball last season with his top average velocity of 94.4 MPH being all the way back in 2016. But his fastball isn’t what should interest LA. In the past, Bundy has shown an excellent slider and changeup. While the slider doesn’t induce as many whiffs as it did from 2017-20, he still runs a 36 Whiff% on it with his average spin rate ranging from 2,404 RPM to 2,655 RPM. The 2,655 mark was in ’21, and was his career-best. We know the Dodgers covet spin with breaking pitches, and with Mark Prior and Co., they might be able to get Bundy’s slider to take the next step.

Bundy’s curveball also has shown potential in the past. In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he didn’t allow a hit against his curveball in. Sure, he only had 13 plate appearances that ended with a curveball, but he threw 119 curves without allowing a hit on it. And aside from the 2018 season (.419 BAA, .455 wOBA), his curveball has been a money pitch when used. From 2019 through ’22, he had a .215 wOBA against — in the same neighborhood as Kershaw (.209), Max Fried and Charlie Morton (both .211) — and an average exit velo of 85.8 MPH — similar to Mike Clevinger and Zach Davies (85.5 MPH) and the same as Adam Wainwright and Touki Toussaint. More exposure could lead to worse results, but there is at least a chance his curveball could be underutilized at this point.

As far as his Statcast numbers go, he was in the 93rd percenticle in BB% and 90th in chase rate. So, he has that going for him.


RHP Drew Hutchison

Hutchison, 32, might be the most unknown of the pitchers listed here, but he brings a solid slider and sinker to the table.

His slider averaged 86 MPH last season and induced a 27.6 Whiff%. It had a 2,582 RPM spin rate and a .300 wOBA against. It got hit a little hard (90 MPH average exit velo), but he has missed bats with it in the past. Some tweaks by Prior and Co., could make it an even more viable pitch. In fact, it might actually play up better out of the bullpen, which could be a consdieration here. He threw it at a career-high clip of 37.1% last season, and there’s no reason to think that couldn’t increase, if necessary. He has averaged 2,468 RPM on it since 2015 (first year Statcast tracked spin rate), which is similar to Brad Brach and Kendall Graveman (2,469 RPM) and the same as Matt Wisler. Hutchison compares somewhat favorably to Graveman, who is a sinker/slider guy.

Hutchison’s sinker is interesting. It’s a low-90s pitch that he hasn’t thrown a lot in the past. He did throw it 11.4% of the time in 2022, which was the most he had ever thrown it. He had a .206 BAA, .249 wOBA and an 88.6 MPH exit velo. Since 2015, the .316 wOBA against is the same as Seth Lugo‘s, a pitcher whom the Dodgers are reportedly have interest. The 87.5 MPH exit velo is the same as Gerrit Cole, Jeurys Familia, Alex Lange, Drew Pomeranz, Kyle Wright as well as old friends Anderson, J.P. Howell and Sergio Romo.

It’s not an overly impressive package, but there’s some untapped potential here.


RHP Chad Kuhl

Kuhl, 30, is a former Pirate who spent 2022 with the Rockies. It … didn’t go well: 5.72 ERA, 5.26 FIP, 8.4 K-BB%. However, there is hope for a pitcher like him. His knuckle curveball is in the 91st percentile of spin (2,866 RPM in 2022) and his slider produced a 34.2 Whiff%. He also has a usable sinker.

His knuckle curveball may not be the biggest swing-and-miss pitch — at least, it hasn’t been the last two years — but it has done nothing but produce results since he started throwing it in 2017. He averages 2,829 RPM and allowed just a .235 wOBA against (the same as Shane Bieber and Hyun Jin Ryu). It was even better when he started throwing it in Pittsburgh. From 2017 through 2020, he had a 2,885 spin rate and a .145 wOBA — 3rd-best in baseball behind Corey Kluber (who might look good in Dodger Blue) and Keone Kela (who was in the Dodgers’ organization last year). It’s a monster.

Kuhl’s slider has the potenital to be a more impactful pitch than his curve becuase he’s willing to throw it more. It has a 2,483 RPM spin rate — 2 RPM ahead of Evan Phillips‘ slider — an average exit velo of 85.9 MPH — the same as guys like Daniel Bard, Ryan Helsley and Joe Jimenez. That has led to a .272 wOBA against while throwing it 26.5% of the time. And adjustment to get more sweeper-like action and increased usage could be a boon for him.


RHP Michael Lorenzen

Lorenzen, 31 on Jan. 4, is a former reliever/2-way player-turned-starter. He signed a 1-year deal with the Angels last offseason and returned some mixed results: 4.24 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 10.0 K-BB% in just 97 2/3 innings. However, there are some signs that the best could be yet to come for him as a starter.

In 2017 and 2019-20, he was anywhere in the Top 1% to 8% of exit velo against. He was merely average (88.1 MPH) in 2022 — his first season as a starting pitcher since his 2015 rookie campaign. We know limiting exit velo is a skill and the Dodgers are good at said skill, so there might be some hope for him as a starter.

His fastball spin rate was in the 82nd percentile (2,439 RPM) this past season, despite losing a couple MPH due to the move from the bullpen. He still averaged 94.6 MPH on it while throwing it 22.2% of the time. He saw an increase in sinker usage with the move to the rotation, and that may have been ill-advised. Despite a lower wOBA (.290) than his 4-seamer (.346), his average exit velo was 90.6 MPH vs. 88.6 MPH and his average launch angle of 6.1 degrees was decidedly mediocre. More 4-seamers, fewer sinkers might be good.

His offspeed stuff is encouraging. He saw his slider Whiff% dip to 35.2%, but from ’19-21, he was anywhere from 40.2-52.1%. And his average exit velo against it was a minuscule 81.1 MPH. It’s hard to judge since that all came from the bullpen, but he might actually want to throw it less to maintain its effectiveness. If he does, he’ll have to supplement it with increased curveball usage. His curveball has an average spin rate of 2,435 RPM — sandwiched between Lucas Giolito and Wade Miley — and he has allowed a .265 wOBA against it. He has thrown it at just a 7% clip for his career, so maybe that’s something to explore.

The biggest benefit could come from his changeup. He has thrown it a decent amount in his career (11.7%), and it has returned excellent results: 84 MPH exit velo, .279 wOBA and has only had a sub-32% Whiff% on it once in his career. He threw it to lefties twice as much as righties last season, and it was his best overall pitch: .154 BAA, .222 wOBA, 83.4 MPH exit velo, 38 Whiff%. He threw it 22.3% of the time next season. Bumping that up and bumping the slider usage down could unlock some things.


LHP Mike Minor

Minor, 35 the day after Christmas, is a guy I liked after the 2017 season, but as a reliever. He went to Texas and had one good season (2019) sandwhiched in between two bad ones. He was traded to the A’s in 2020, signed back up with the Royals in 2021 and posted a 6.06 ERA and 6.16 FIP in 98 innings for the Reds last season. So, what gives?

Well, the veteran southpaw 94th percentile fastball spin — even with the poor ’22 season — a formerly really good changeup and an above-average 87.6 MPH average exit velo (since 2015; the Statcast era). He has, predictably, lost velocity on his fastball with the move back to the rotation and with age. He averaged 90.4 MPH on it last season. For reference, Anderson averaged 90.6 MPH in 2021 before the Dodgers signed him. While the 4-seamer wasn’t Anderson’s best pitch, Minor’s fastball profiles better than Tyler’s did.

He has always had a good changeup. He used to routinely be in the 30s in Whiff% and averaged an 84.6 MPH exit velo against it and a .279 wOBA against. Again for context, Minor’s changeup is better than Anderson’s was, and Anderson saw his usage increase to 31.6% last season (up from 24.6 in ’21). Perhaps there’s some Tyler Anderson in Mike Minor.

Minor’s curveball is a bit of an enigma. In the last two years, it has a 2,498 RPM spin rate, which is good! It has a .285 wOBA, which is not bad! But it also has an average exit velo of 91.2 MPH. That’s bad! Over the past six seasons, the curve has either been really good (2017-18, ’20) or mediocre (2019, ’21-22). That’s some kind of weird consistency, I guess.


RHP Aaron Sanchez

Sanchez, 30, was a top prospect with the Blue Jays in the middle of last decade and he realized that potential in 2016. He finished seventh in Cy Young voting and posted a 3.00 ERA, 3.55 FIP in 192 innings. Then, things fell apart. Injuries hit him hard and he has bounced around ever since. He spent 2022 with the Nationals and Brewers and combined to post a 6.60 ERA, 4.48 FIP in 60 innings.

When healthy, Sanchez is a sinker-curveball guy with enough changeup to keep hitters honest. Gone are the days of the 95+ MPH sinker. He averaged 92.1 MPH on his sinker in ’22, and it wasn’t terribly effective. He had a .364 BAA, .415 wOBA against and an average exit velo of 91.5 MPH. Throwing it 41.3% of the time led to some poor overall results. His 4-seamer fared better — .303 BAA, .336 wOBA, 90.2 MPH exit velo — but still wasn’t great. One thing he has always been great at is getting horizontal movement on his pitches. His 4-seamer got 4.1 inches more h-movement vs. the average 4-seamer. Great pitcher development orgs like the Astros, Brewers and Twins have had him in the past, but they didn’t get him to throw more 4-seamers and fewer sinkers. Maybe, if the Dodgers got him, they could convince him to do so? The only thing with that is the Dodgers like the vertical movement on the fastball, and Sanchez’s fastball doesn’t really do that (-2.5 inches vs. average in ’22). Long story short: He and they’d have to completely reinvent his primary pitch, and that’s a tall task.

One the breaking ball side, Sanchez once had elite spin rates on his curveball. It was still really good in ’22 (2,,632 RPM) and it averages 2,787 RPM for his career. That comes with a solid 86.6 MPH exit velocity against and .262 wOBA. It’s easily his best pitch, and you can be sure interested teams know that. Backing off the fastball and increasing curveball usage could be the key to getting him back to where he once was — or even anywhere close (health permitting). On that note, his changeup might be underutilized, too. He has a career .272 wOBA against and 87.3 MPH exit velo against. It’s used mostly against lefties (64/36 split), but increased usage against righties could be explored. Here are how hitters have fared against his changeup in his career:

  • vs. RHH: .173/.258/.318, .255 wOBA, 89.4 MPH EV
  • vs. LHH: .240/.270/.384, .280 wOBA, 86.5 MPH EV

While righties tend to hit it harder, the results have been substantial better than when lefties make contact. Just something to keep in mind.


LHP Drew Smyly

If not for the next (and last) player on this list, Smyly would be the craftiest of the crafty on this list. The southpaw is going into his age-34 season with some interesting metrics. He compares favorably to Anderson last year because he does a really good job limiting exit velocity. He was in the 85th percentile in ’22 (86.7 MPH) and, despite lacking above-average curveball spin, uses it the most frequently and enjoys success with it. He has a career .286 wOBA against and an 85.8 MPH exit velo against.

His cutter has improved in recent years as well. Prior to 2020, his cutter was pretty awful. Batters hit .330/.361/.643 with an ugly .416 wOBA against. Since ’20, those numbers improved to .242/.305/463 with a .328 wOBA. Still not great, but that’s because righties tend to hit it well.

  • vs. RHH: .308/.393/.564, .411 wOBA
  • vs. LHH: .169/.205/.352, .234 wOBA

Simple solution: Quit throwing it to right-handers. Problem is, he has thrown it to righties at nearly a 66% clip in his career. He has stopped throwing it that much to rightites in the last three seasons, but he’s still at 56/44 righties to lefties, so that might need to come down even more. If it does, and he increases his curveball usage against righties, that could be beneficial. The wild card would be to reintroduce the slider — a pitch he hasn’t thrown since 2016. That’d be risky, though.


LHP Ryan Yarbrough

Last on the list is a soft-tosser who does two things really well (and they’re almost one in the same): He limits hard hits and exit velocity. He finished 2022 in the 94th percentile in HardHit% and 97th percentile in exit velocity against. He did all that while being in the 1st percentile in fastball velocity and 11th in curveball spin rate. So, how does he do it?

Yarbrough, 30, has been in the Top 1-4% of the league in exit velocity against in every one of his five MLB seasons. He tops out at a Jamie Moyer-esque 86.7 MPH with his sinker, so he isn’t exactly blowing hitters away. Despite not being a high-spin curve, it does a fantastic job limiting exit velo. Batters are hitting just .150/.228/.295 with a .233 wOBA and an 80.8 MPH exit velo against. That’s bananas! If you break it down by handedness, you can see how much he dominantes lefites.

  • vs. RHH: .217/.308/.443, .327 wOBA
  • vs. LHH: .120/.191/.227, .189 wOBA

Goodness. It almost makes you wonder why the Rays non-tendered him, seeing as they’ve done a great job getting results out of him.

Here’s his overall pitch breakdown in 2022:

  • Cutter: 30.3%
  • Curveball: 27%
  • Changeup: 23.9%
  • Sinker: 18.7%

His cutter and changeup are used almost exclusively against righties, while it’s closer to an even split with the other two offerings. I have always been a big proponent of same-handed changeup usage. He has thrown just 97 changeups to lefties in the majors. While the results haven’t been overwhelmingly positive (.250/.300/.286, .264 wOBA), there’s potential for that to improve. The Dodgers have, seemingly, put more focus on changepus recently and getting Yarbrough to throw more against lefties could throw enough of a wrinkle in to make him even more effective against them.


That was a lot. I focused on just free-agent pitchers, as I’m sure there are some trade options the Dodgers are exploring in this arena. Factoring in everything — age, expected contract, fit, etc. — here’s how I’d rank the eight pitchers above for the Dodgers.

  1. Kuhl
  2. Lorenzen
  3. Bundy
  4. Yarbrough
  5. Smyly
  6. Minor
  7. Sanchez
  8. Hutchison

Kuhl seems to have the most potential, with Lorenzen not far behind. I could see Bundy turning things around quickly, while Yarbrough is more of “we know what he is.” Smyly and Minor are interchangeable, while Sanchez and Hutchison are interesting, but might be more interesting as relievers.

We know the Dodgers are going to add pitching outside of Kershaw and Miller this offseason, and it wouldn’t be surprising if one (or two) of these guys are on their radar.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. 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 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.