2020 Toronto Blue Jays Reflections: Chase Anderson

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Anthony Alford

We continue to look at the 2020 Toronto Blue Jays by jumping over to the pitching side of things with Chase Anderson.

Anderson was acquired in the offseason when the Blue Jays sent minor leaguer Chad Spanberger to the Milwaukee Brewers for Anderson. Drafted in the ninth round in 2009 by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Anderson made his big league debut on May 11, 2014 at the age of 26 for the Diamondbacks. He pitched two seasons for the D-backs, tossing 267 innings with a 4.18 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, striking out 216 batters with 80 walks before he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in a deal that involved former Jay Aaron Hill.

Pitching 2016 through 2019 with the Brewers, Anderson compiled a 3.83 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 590 innings with 505 strikeouts and 201 walks with a stellar 2017 in which he had a 2.74 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 141 1/3 innings.

With $8.5 million on his contract and a team option for $9.5 million in 2021 (with a $500,000 buyout), the Blue Jays brought Anderson over as the nominal third starter (at least until the expected promotion of Nate Pearson) after Hyun-jin Ryu and Tanner Roark.


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Anderson didn’t have the prettiest spring training, posting an 11.57 ERA and 2.36 WHIP over 9 1/3 innings, allowing 12 earned runs including four home runs. From his past stats, once could deduce that home runs might be a problem for a pitcher going from the NL Central to the AL East, a pitcher who led the National League in home runs allowed in 2018, giving up 30 taters in 158 innings, for a 1.7 HR/9 rate.


When baseball emerged from the pandemic shutdown in July, Anderson got injured in summer camp, hurting his oblique and wouldn’t make his season debut until August 8. His first outing wasn’t bad as he threw three innings, allowing just one run on one hit with two walks and one strikeout and he allowed one earned run in four of his first five outings (with a three-earned-run game against the Red Sox over five innings on August 25). Anderson concluded his solid August with a five-inning outing against Baltimore, striking out eight and allowing just one run on three hits.

While we finished August expecting more solid results from Anderson, September was another story entirely. Facing the Boston Red Sox, the New York Mets and the New York Yankees (twice), Anderson maxed out at four innings, allowing 20 runs in 12 innings, giving up nine home runs before finishing out his season with a solid two-inning stint out of the bullpen against the Orioles.


Looking at his season on Baseball Savant, he was very poor this year in his barrel rate, meaning that players squared up the ball against him quite a bit more than average, at 16.2%.

 So, in other words, Anderson was not good for the Blue Jays in 2020, posting a 7.22 ERA in 33 2/3 innings while striking out a healthy 10.16 batters per nine innings and walking 2.67 batters per nine innings. So while his peripherals were fine, the amount of hard contact is a problem.

The big question with Anderson that the Blue Jays are going to have in the offseason is whether or not to pick up the option. At $9.5 million, I would think that the Jays might have some hesitations although it might be possible to buy him out and then re-sign him at a smaller rate.


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