Pittsburgh Pirates: Tyler Anderson Has Breakout Potential


Pittsburgh Pirates left-handed starter Tyler Anderson has the potential to breakout in the upcoming 2021 season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed left-handed pitcher Tyler Anderson to a one-year deal in mid-February. This season Anderson will get a shot to be a fulltime starting pitcher for the Bucs and he has the potential to be a breakout pitcher for the team.

So far, Anderson has tossed 456.2 innings in the MLB with the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants. On the surface, he has a 4.65 ERA, 4.46 FIP and 1.34 WHIP. However, his numbers are much better than you’re led to believe.

While Anderson impressed in his first start this spring with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he has struggled some since then. Despite this, he still has a lot of untapped potential that he could unelash this season.

For one, he has a 4.36 SIERA, 4.27 xFIP. Both of those are better marks than his ERA and FIP. He also is considered an overall league average pitcher. He has a 103 ERA+, 98 ERA-, 102 FIP- and 101 xFIP-. These are adjusted for things such as run environment and park factors and 100 is league average. Speaking that he’s tossed 230.2 innings in the ever so hitter friendly Coors Field, it’s understandable that he has much better underlying numbers than just his surface ERA and FIP suggest.

He also induces soft contact quite often. His career exit velocity is 86.6 MPH compared to the league average mark of 88.3 MPH. Last season, he ranked in the top 77th percentile of exit velo at 86.3 MPH. Anderson’s career 30.1% hard hit rate is another well above average mark. He induced a hard hit ball just 31.1% of the time in 2020 which was in the top 85th percentile. Overall, he put up a very similar hard hit rate and exit velo to Dallas Keuchel, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Sonny Gray.

Anderson’s biggest issue is home runs. His career 1.4 HR/9 rate isn’t too awe inspiring, but again remember that he’s pitched most of his innings in Coors Field and has been on a National League West. He’s struggled heavily with home runs at Dodger Stadium and Chase Field, two parks where he has an opponent slugging percentage well above .500 at and a 2.0 HR/9 rate at.

It will also help that he’ll be pitching to a much better defensive catcher. Since Anderson has arrived in the major leagues, Colorado Rockies catchers have combined for -20 DRS and -10.9 framing runs above average. Last year with the Giants, he tossed to three catchers: Chadwick Tromp, Joey Bart and Rob Brantley. While he pitched extremely well with Tromp, he had a 6.49 ERA in 26.1 innings with Bart and Brantley.

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There’s a lot working in Anderson’s favor going into 2021 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’ll be in a much more pitcher friendly division, will be playing in much less hitter friendly parks and will be pitching to one of the best defensive catchers in baseball in Jacob Stallings most of the time. Anderson definitely has the potential to breakout in 2021 and be a potential trade deadline piece for the Pittsburgh Pirates.