Arizona Diamondbacks: Why Chase Anderson has been the biggest surprise

There have not been many reasons to smile for Arizona Diamondback fans in 2014. The Diamondbacks are in last place with the third lowest winning percentage in Major League Baseball.

Fans were optimistic about the starting rotation entering spring training. It featured two young lefties and two veteran innings eaters. They also had breakout star Archie Bradley poised for a mid-season debut.

Thus far everything that could have gone wrong for the Diamondbacks has gone wrong. 24 year old ace Patrick Corbin underwent Tommy John surgery and won’t return until 2015. Randall Delgado got demoted to the bullpen after just two starts and Trevor Cahill was shockingly designated for assignment Monday. Bradley suffered an elbow injury after five less than stellar starts in Triple A.

Wade Miley and Brandon McCarthy both have an ERA+ that is far worse than league average. The Diamondbacks starting pitching ERA is 4.86 which is the worst in MLB. With the Bradley injury the team needed to dig deep into the farm system to find an adequate major league starter.

Nobody expected that starter to be Chase Anderson. He was ranked the 23rd best prospect in the organization at the end of 2013. He had a rough 2013 season in Triple A Reno making only 13 starts and posting a 5.73 ERA. He allowed 11 hits per nine innings and had a career high of 3.4 walks per nine.

Chase Anderson

Chase Anderson

Anderson was outstanding in Double A Mobile this season. He allowed just three earned runs in 39 innings and had a WHIP of 0.72. Another pitching prospect Mike Bolsinger was underwhelming in his major league debut and Anderson got the call up to the majors.

He has been the Diamondbacks best starting pitcher since debuting on May 11th. Hey debuted in Chicago holding the White Sox to just one run and two hits in 5.1 innings of work. His catcher Miguel Montero was impressed with him from the beginning.

“He was pretty calm and locked in and he seemed pretty focused on what he was doing,” Montero┬ásaid. “I liked the guy, his mentality out there. He wasn’t really afraid of anybody.”

Anderson has always thrown strikes. He had a reputation of getting ahead in the count in the minors and that has carried over to the majors. “You need to know two things about Anderson – he throws a ton of strikes and he has a great change-up,” MLB Prospect Watch said. “He could be especially effective his first time through the league before there is a lot of video or credible data on his tendencies, as his change-up surprises unsuspecting hitters.”

Even if Anderson is only succeeding because it’s his first time the league is seeing him, his ability to attack hitters and his plus change-up should make him a major league starter for a few years. It is a small sample size of five starts, but his numbers are very impressive. He has won each of his five starts with an ERA of 3.14 and has seven strikeouts per nine innings.

There are some red flags with Anderson. His FIP of 4.55 suggests that he relies on a good defense to keep the other team off the scoreboard. He has allowed five home runs and has had trouble getting himself out of jams.

Despite doubts that Anderson can maintain his current success, he has been a bright spot on an otherwise underwhelming Dbacks team. Fans have been looking for the next effective young starter after Miley in 2012 and Corbin in 2013. Anderson gives fans a reason to be optimistic about the future.