How Phillies' newest rotation candidate sees himself fitting in


Chase Anderson had four million reasons to join the Phillies, but here’s one more.

“I think Philadelphia is just a good fit, a team that has a really good chance to win a championship in that tough division, the NL East,” he said Thursday on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. “I think for me, this point in my career, I want to win a championship. I’ve been to the playoffs three of the last four years and there’s nothing like postseason baseball.”

Some lofty goals from the new guy.

The Phillies agreed to a one-year deal this week with Anderson, a seven-year vet with 167 big-league starts to his name. From 2014-19, Anderson went 53-40 with a 3.94 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.

In 2020, he dealt with an oblique strain and his ERA jumped to 7.22, thanks in part to two bad late-season relief appearances against the Yankees.

"Last year was kind of a wash for me," he said. "Crazy year, as we all know."

Anderson will battle for a spot in the Phillies’ 2021 rotation and, with that $4M price tag, likely has an inside track to make some starts. With Anderson, Matt Moore, Vince Velasquez, Spencer Howard, Ivan Nova and perhaps Ranger Suarez, the Phillies now have some depth for the final two rotation spots. 

"I think I can bring to the table taking the ball every fifth day, filling the back end of the rotation," he said. "I look forward to competing for that spot in spring training."

They could even utilize a 6-man rotation at times this season given the reduced workloads starting pitchers had last year. Many teams will be cautious with their starters, and we might not see guys take down 200 innings after pitching 70 in 2020.

“My goal is to go out there and provide innings and hopefully pitch 150-plus innings in a year when a lot of teams are gonna need that,” Anderson said.

“There are so many young guys coming up right now that had a little bit of exposure last year. With their top prospect in Philadelphia, Spencer Howard, I’ve heard great things about him. He’s gonna be a star, from what I’ve seen and heard. Gonna be kind of watching out for the young guys.”

Anderson, 33, was drafted in the ninth round in 2009 by the Diamondbacks, 11 picks before the Phillies selected Aaron Altherr. He’s pitched for the D-backs, Brewers and Blue Jays.

It’s worth noting that Anderson has outperformed his predictive metrics nearly every year of his career, with ERAs consistently lower than his FIP, a measure derived from a pitcher’s strikeout, walk, home run and HBP totals. 

Here is the yearly difference between Anderson’s ERA and FIP:

  • 2014: 4.01 — 4.22
  • 2015: 4.30 — 4.14
  • 2016: 4.39 — 5.09
  • 2017: 2.74 — 3.58
  • 2018: 3.93 — 5.22
  • 2019: 4.21 — 4.83
  • 2020: 7.22 — 6.16
  • Career: 4.06 — 4.60

Anderson is a flyball pitcher who has struggled to keep the ball in the yard throughout his career. That might not resonate well at Citizens Bank Park. Two seasons ago, he allowed the most home runs in the National League (30). Last season, he was taken deep 11 times in just 33⅔ innings.

Among active pitchers with at least 500 innings since 2016, Anderson has the seventh-highest home run rate in the majors. Velasquez is three spots ahead of him, 10th-highest.

Citizens Bank Park, a notoriously hitter-friendly venue, had the fifth-highest rate of home runs in the majors last season, trailing only Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Rogers Centre in Toronto, Yankee Stadium and Angel Stadium.

In Philly, Anderson is excited to work with catcher J.T. Realmuto.

"It’s huge, that’s super appealing, having the best catcher in baseball," he said. "I was chatting with him a little bit (Wednesday) night. I’m really excited to throw to him. He shuts the run game down, calls a great game, great pitch framer, great blocker. He’s just a freak for a catcher.

"That position is so demanding and he makes it look so easy on both sides of the ball."

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