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Opening Day Countdown: Chase Anderson #57

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Anyway you look at it, we're truly less than two months away from Opening Day. How exciting! And speaking of exciting, today we highlight jersey number 57: Chase Anderson--and his intriguing fastball...

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

At the time of the Jean Segura trade announcement, Chase Anderson was something of an afterthought. The big news was obviously Segura's departure. The trade potential had been discussed extensively since the offseason began. And most Brewers fans were understandably preoccupied with the promise of Isan Diaz. But we would be committing an error if we continued to overlook the potential value Anderson brings the club.

This season will be his third at the major league level and technically his second full season. However, due to an injury, he was limited to 27 starts last year. To this point in his career he's made 48 starts and thrown 267 innings with a 19.2 K%, 7.1 BB%, 4.30 ERA, and 4.14 FIP. That's a pretty average stat line, but average isn't bad in baseball. And from the fifth spot in a rotation it's perfectly acceptable.

However there could be a chance Anderson has the ability to take a step forward. That is related to the velocity jump he experience in 2015. This article by Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs first brought his velocity gain to my attention.

CAndersonVelo

I notice two things when I look at that chart. Most obviously I see he finished the season with a higher average average velocity than he began the season. I also notice the dip in velocity in June.

It's interesting that the velo drop in June coincides with the roughest stretch of Anderson's season, which ends with a DL stint. Here are those starts:

Date IP ERA
6/17 6.0 3.00
6/23 4.2 15.43
6/28 7.0 5.14
7/3 6.0 4.50
7/10 4.1 8.31
7/18 3.2 17.18

After the July 18 start Anderson went on the disabled list with tricep tendinitis in his throwing arm. I think it's probably a safe assumption the injury impacted his performance, both in regards to his earned run average and the dip in velocity.

What's been of more interest to Brewers fans is the velocity gain he enjoyed upon his presumably healthy return to action. However I would argue this velocity gain wasn't a sudden jump, but rather a continued trend. If you extend the look to include monthly data from the 2014 season this trend becomes more obvious:

Month/Year Avg FB Velocity
5/14 92.20
6/14 91.39
7/14 91.61
8/14 91.86
9/14 92.85
4/15 92.33
5/15 92.46
6/15 91.77
7/15 92.31
8/15 93.29
9/15 93.31

Perhaps it's best to ignore May and September of 2014. Anderson only made three starts in each of those months which is probably why they look like aberrations. With the exception of June 2015 we can see a pretty steady progression. That's very interesting. What was once below average velocity has been steadily trending up to the point where it's now sitting around average.

It's not a huge gain, and it's not guaranteed to provide more compelling results. Anderson still had a 4.15 ERA in his starts after returning from the disabled list. But I would say it's cause for hope. And did have a much nicer looking 3.81 FIP in those starts.

If Anderson can maintain his velocity gains perhaps he can become a tick better than league average. With five years of team control, two of which are pre-arb, he would provide significant value either as a member of the Brewers rotation or in a future trade. Needless to say, Chase Anderson's velocity is going to be one of the 2016 Brewers story lines I follow with great interest.