Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson is now the hunter

Anderson has gone from being the hunted to the hunter in Milwaukee
The Milwaukee Brewers haven’t fielded a winning team since the 2014 season. It has been six years since the 2011 Brew Crew won 96 games and the NL Central Division crown. That was the most recent contending seasons for the club.
Thus far in the 2017 season, the Brewers are off to a .500 start at 16-16. They are still hanging around in the division race, a game and a half out of first place as we move through the second week of May.
Much of the credit for the Brewers’ more competitive start has rightly gone to surprising slugger Eric Thames. The first baseman signed as a free agent this past offseason after four years away from Major League Baseball, the last three of those playing in Korea.
Thames has given Milwaukee an offensive threat to team with Ryan Braun, the likes of which haven’t been seen on the banks of Lake Michigan since Prince Fielder left following that 2011 campaign.
But as any baseball fan knows, you can have all the hitting in the world, and your team will not win if it cannot compete on the mound.

FOURTH YEAR STARTER EMERGING

Right-hander Chase Anderson has emerged early on this season as Thames’ surprise counterpart among the pitching staff.
A Texas native, Anderson was a fourth round choice of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Oklahoma. He came to Milwaukee in a January 2016 trade along with Aaron Hill and prospect Isan Diaz in exchange for Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner.
Now in his fourth big league season, the 29-year-old Anderson entered this year with a career mark of 24-24 over his first 79 starts in the major leagues. His typical ERA has been north of the 4.00 mark.
Thus far in the 2017 season, Anderson is 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.212 WHIP mark. He has allowed 30 hits over 34.2 innings with a 30/12 K:BB ratio.
Anderson’s K/BB ratio of 2.50, his K/9 rate of 7.8 and his BB/9 rate of 3.1 are all right along with his career marks to this point. Sometimes a nice ERA can be deceptive. But Anderson also has a fine 2.77 FIP mark and a 153 ERA+ on his stat line. So what has been the difference?
One bugaboo for Anderson in the past has been a propensity to surrender home runs on a far too frequent basis. He served up 62 long balls in 418.2 innings over his first three seasons.
But to this point, Anderson has yielded just one homer. After giving up 25 bombs a year ago, he is on a pace to allow just five this season.

MORE AGGRESSIVE MENTALITY

In late April, Anderson was quoted by Todd Rosiak with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on an improved mental aspect of his approach to the game:
“I think it goes back to the mentality of being the hunter and not the hunted,” Rosiak quotes the pitcher. 
“(Pitching coach Derek Johnson) harps on that a lot. He tells me to just go out there and attack the strike zone and that my stuff’s good enough, and that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t.”
The lone homer that he has surrendered thus far in 2017 came in his very first start of the year. On April 6, Mark Reynolds of the Colorado Rockies tagged him in the third inning at Miller Park.
Since that time, Anderson is working on a streak of 27 consecutive innings without allowing a ball to leave the yard. It has clearly been a key to the overall improvement in his results.
Things haven’t been all rosy for Anderson. His last two starts have been less than stellar, as he allowed four earned runs to both the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. Against the division-rival Cards, Anderson lasted just 4.2 innings, his shortest outing of the season thus far.
The improvement that Anderson showed on the mound over his first handful of starts was noticeable. If he simply continues to keep the ball in the park, he will enjoy many more of those types of outings as the year moves along. Maintaining that “hunter” attitude will be the key.

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