Milwaukee Brewers: Brett Anderson Expected to Start Game 2

In addition to the Milwaukee Brewers announcing Brandon Woodruff as the Opening Day starter, Craig Counsell also said that Brett Anderson would be on the mound for Game 2.

On Friday afternoon, Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell announced that Brandon Woodruff would be the team’s Opening Day starter in Chicago. And that news really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone; in fact, it would be a bigger surprise if he wasn’t.

But what I do find noteworthy is that Counsell also mentioned that the newly acquired Brett Anderson would be taking the mound in Game 2, as long as his blister is healed up.

Prior to this announcement, in terms of the order, the two through four spots in the rotation were up for grabs, with the assumption that the fifth spot would go to either Eric Lauer or Corbin Burnes. However, my thought was that the two-spot would go to Adrian Houser.

Albeit in a smaller sample size, Houser did put together a better 2019 season than Anderson. Over 111.1 innings pitched, Houser posted a 3.72 ERA, a FIP of 3.88, a 1,240 WHIP, and he logged 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Not to mention that Houser came up big for the Brewers with some excellent outings during August and September last season.

But instead, it is Anderson who gets the nod.

Coming off of one of his better seasons in several years, the Milwaukee Brewers signed Anderson this past offseason to a one year deal worth $5 million with an additional $2 million in incentives available. For Oakland in 2019, Anderson would toss 176 innings while posting a 3.89 ERA, a 4.57 FIP, a WHIP of 1.307, and logged 4.6 strikeouts per nine.

Anderson isn’t the type of pitcher that is going to blow any hitters away as his fastball maxes out in the low-90s, but he has an excellent pitch mix, throwing six different pitches at least five percent of the time last season, with his sinker being his go-to. Anderson pounds the strike zone and generates a lot of groundballs with a career rate of 56.8 percent, according to Fangraphs.

When healthy, Anderson has been very good over his career; however, staying healthy has been the issue. Before 2019, the last time Anderson threw more than 100 innings was 2015, where he posted a 3.94 FIP in 180.1 innings. Prior to that was in 2010, where he recorded a 3.21 FIP in 112.1 innings pitched.

The left-hander has had numerous IL stints over his career with various arm injuries, but after the signing, GM David Stearns said that while the Brewers need to mindful of Anderson’s injury history, they do feel comfortable that he can put together a similar performance in 2020 (via Fox Sports):

“Any time there have been injuries and have missed time or a player has missed time because of an injury like Brett has over the course of his career, there’s going to be an increased emphasis placed on that,” Stearns said. “But we are comfortable, based on durability last year when he logged over 175 innings and made over 30 starts, that we have a player who is capable of making a similar output for us moving forward.”

At least early on, the chances are that Anderson is going to be on a pitch count to help increase his odds of staying healthy over the course of the season. So perhaps Counsell’s plan is for Game 2 in Chicago to be more of a bullpen game with Anderson pitching just three or four innings.

Either way, as we’ve seen from him in the past, when he is available, he’s been very good, and that presence would certainly be a welcomed addition to the Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation.

All stats and info courtesy of Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball, and Fangraphs.