Left-handed hurler Tyler Anderson is eligible for arbitration for the third time in his career, but what are the odds that the SF Giants tender him a contract?
The SF Giants must decide whether to tender contracts to nine arbitration-eligible players prior to the December 2, 2020 deadline. Starting pitcher Tyler Anderson may be one of the more difficult decisions of the group.
Tyler Anderson Before 2020
The Giants originally claimed Anderson off of waivers from the Colorado Rockies last offseason. At first glance, I was not sure what to make of the southpaw. If a pitcher-needy club like the Rockies put him on waivers, then what value could he be to the Giants?
In hindsight, the crux of the move was each organization’s differeing evaluation of Anderson’s injury history. Last year, Anderson faced a long recovery from knee surgery and it was unclear whether he’d be able to return to his previous form.
In four seasons with the Rockies, the left-handed hurler posted a 4.69 ERA (4.47 FIP) with a 21.8 percent strikeout rate against a 7.6 percent walk rate across 397 innings. However, while dealing with the injury in 2019, he posted an alarming 11.57 ERA in five starts.
The Giants felt that Anderson could fully recover from his injury and by taking him away from the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field, he could produce even more favorable results.
Reviewing Tyler Anderson’s 2020 Season
The Giants were indeed proven correct. Anderson produced solid results, but only marginally better than he’d been in Colorado. In 13 games, he pitched to a 4.37 ERA (4.36 FIP) with a 15.8 percent strikeout rate against a 9.6 percent walk rate.
It should be noted that he struggled against the Arizona Diamondbacks in three consecutive starts down the stretch. His first start against them was strong, but he yielded a combined 11 earned runs in 8.2 innings of work in his second and third starts against them.
Clearly, hitters had the advantage of seeing him so frequently in such a small window. I only mention that because those three games represented about 23 percent of his season. With such a peculiar season, schedule aberrations like that were bound to have statistical impacts.
I can overlook this as being a product of the weirdness from a shortened, 60-game season. Starting pitchers will not typically face the same lineup in three consecutive starts in a normal season.
Should the SF Giants Tender Tyler Anderson?
Anderson’s skill set is one that is difficult to project. On one hand, he does a lot of little things well such as fielding his position, holding runners, and mixing and matching his four-pitch arsenal in the strike zone. Furthermore, he gets good extension in his delivery, so his pitches tend to play up.
On the other hand, he relies on inducing weak contact by keeping hitters off balance. This is a difficult skill to excel in because the BABIP gods are not always so kind. On some nights, his starts suffer the metaphorical “Death by a thousand paper-cuts” from bloops, bleeders, and seeing-eyed-singles.
That said, Anderson put together a nice season at a very affordable rate. The Giants 2021 pitching staff has more questions than answers. As currently constructed, Johnny Cueto and Logan Webb are the only returning arms from the 2020 staff. Tyler Beede should return at some point next season from Tommy John Surgery, but that’s far from a guarantee.
Final Verdict: The Giants should absolutely tender Anderson to supplement their starting pitching depth as they head into the offseason.
Trevor Cahill, Drew Smyly, and Kevin Gausman are set to hit free agency. That is going to be a lot of innings to replace. The SF Giants will need depth, and given that he will see a modest raise from his $1.8 million salary in 2020, he is very affordable. I think there will be a surprise non-tender or two from the Giants this year, but I do not think Anderson is one of them. They should retain him for 2021.