One of the last trades the Tampa Bay Rays made at the trade deadline this year involved acquiring pitcher Nick Anderson from the Miami Marlins. Many speculated about the trade as Anderson carried a 3.92 ERA with the Marlins and a 2-4 win-loss record. However, since the trade Anderson has dominated on the mound and has shown why he can be one of the best relief pitchers in the game.
As mentioned before Anderson’s season with the Marlins was nothing special. Anderson had an ERA of 3.92 and just about half of the pitches thrown were hit hard. But since the trade Anderson posted an ERA of just 0.77 in the month of August and is undefeated. This is a massive improvement and has many wondering why he has pitched so much better.
Looking at some of the advanced statistics from MLB.com, you might notice a few interesting trends. Anderson’s best month with the Marlins for both ERA and hard-hit percentage came in July where he posted a 1.93 ERA. During this time his hard-hit percentage fell to an all-time low of 29.4%. Since his trade to the Rays, it has gone back up but is still one of his lowest of the year.
For pitching, there are a few factors that are commonly measured to see how good a pitcher is. Velocity, location and how often you use your pitches are some of the most commonly used ones.
By the Numbers
When looking at Anderson’s pitch velocity, it has stayed relatively the same over the year. Over the course of the year, we have seen only about a 1mph increase in his four-seam and a 2mph increase in his curveball. So if velocity hasn’t changed then why has he pitched so much better with the Rays.
Since his trade to the Rays Anderson has been using his fastball at an all-time high at about 72% and his curve 28% of the time. This was much different in the early parts of the season for Anderson where this ratio was much closer to 50/50. This can do one of two things for a pitcher. First off it can make your curveball much more effective as opponents are much less custom to seeing it. It can also improve the quality of your pitch as throwing a curve can be much harder on your arm.
In the month of August, Nick Anderson has also greatly improved in his pitch location. In the month of August, 72% of his fastballs were “in-zone”. This is almost 10% higher than the start of the season. As for his curveball, Anderson has thrown 60% of these pitches “out of the zone”. This is again one of his best months being almost 8% better than the start of the season.
Coincidentally Anderson’s swing and miss percentage have also improved. Since the Month of July (where we started to see an increase in better locations), we have seen the percentage increase over 30% when it comes to the curveball.
Nick Anderson Outlook
Ever Since we have seen better pitch location from Nick Anderson, he has struck more people out than ever before. And this trend started after his trade to the Rays. There can be a number of reasons for this such a change. One is a change in pitching coaches which could have given Anderson a new perspective on his pitches. But the bottom line is since the locations improved Andrson has pitched better.
All this makes sense. There is a reason baseball players will say things like “put it right down broadway” or “you hang it, I crush it.” These all refer to messing up the location of a pitch which is exactly what Anderson was doing.
If there is one thing to take away from this is that hard work can absolutely improve your pitching quickly. While we love to see pitcher break 100mph, there is something to be said for guys who can locate the ball correctly.
Anderson has made some amazing improvements with the Rays so far this year and hopefully, he can continue to pitch as well as he has. The Rays are currently fighting for a wild card spot so his pitching over the next few months will be a huge key in the Rays playoff push.