Pittsburgh Pirates buy low candidate: Brett Anderson

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 25: Brett Anderson
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 25: Brett Anderson /

Could the Pittsburgh Pirates find their next buy low candidate success story in the form of left-handed starting pitcher Brett Anderson?

As the 2017 offseason prepares to heat up with the World Series approaching its conclusion, the Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in a peculiar position with their starting rotation. The Pirates have plenty of starting pitching options. In fact, they have more options than rotation spots available. One thing they do not have, however, is a proven Major League left-handed starting pitcher.

With free agency looming there is a left-handed starting pitcher available that is a buy low candidates that could be the next reclamation success story for the Pirates. This pitcher is veteran Brett Anderson.

The nine-year career of Brett Anderson has been defined by injuries. He has twice made 30+ starts, this came in 2009 (30 starts) and 2015 (31 starts). Outside of these two seasons, Anderson has never made more 19 starts in a season.

Brett Anderson has dealt with ankle problems, back issues, blisters, a broken finger, and a wrist injury in his career. Anderson has also undergone Tommy John Surgery. All of these issues have led to Anderson making just 128 starts, while making 12 relief appearances, since debuting in 2009.

More from Rum Bunter

When Brett Anderson has been healthy he has been effective in his Major League career. In 741 career innings pitched Anderson has averaged 2.48 BB/9, 6.62 K/9, and he has allowed 68 home runs (0.83 HR/9). He owns a 4.03 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 3.60 xFIP, and an 11.2 fWAR.

Opposing hitters have always struggled to square Anderson up as well. In his career he allows line drives 17.7 percent of the time and hard contact 28.0 percent of the time, both of which are below league average. He is also a groundball machine owning a career groundball rate of 57.5 percent.

Prior to the start of the 2017 season Brett Anderson signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. He made just six starts for the Cubs before back issues sent him to the disabled list. Then in August, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Brett Anderson went on to make seven starts with the Blue Jays. He pitched 33 1/3 innings in these seven starts allowing 39 hits, three home runs, and he posted a 3.82 FIP. This was much better than the 4.52 FIP he had as a Cub in 2017.

His groundball prowess makes Brett Anderson a pitcher that fits the Pirate bill. Throughout the Ray Searage Era the Pirates have preached generating groundball outs and that is something that Anderson does very well. Because of this, he would appear to be a pitcher that would be of interest to Neal Huntington and company.

All Brett Anderson has to do in order to have a successful 2018 season is stay healthy. Unfortunately for Anderson, that has always been easier said than done. He has never allowed much hard contact, he generates a lot of groundballs, he limits home runs, and he has great control. All that is missing for Anderson is health. Hopefully, he will be healthy in 2018 and it would be great to see him be healthy as a member of the Pirate starting rotation.

Next: An update on Pirates playing in the DL Winter League

Any team that would sign Brett Anderson would be taking a risk due to his injury history. However, this is a risk worth taking for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Anderson is a pitcher that should come cheap due to the back issues he has had the past two seasons, and he would be a great fit at PNC Park. Furthermore, due to pitchers such as Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams, and Chad Kuhl the Pirates would not need Anderson to be anything more than a quality back of the rotation arm.

The Pirates’ home ballyard is built perfectly for left-handed pitchers to be successful. Factor in the high groundball rate Anderson has had throughout his career, and, if healthy, there is every reason to expect him to be successful if he were a Pittsburgh Pirate.