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By Jon Weisman
The Dodgers have officially announced the signing of pitcher Brett Anderson to a one-year contract today, making room for him on the 40-man roster by designating shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena for assignment.
Anderson, who will turn 27 before Spring Training begins, has thrown 318 2/3 innings over the past five seasons while battling injuries (including 43 1/3 innings last year for Colorado with a 2.91 ERA), so sure, it’s optimistic to lock him in for 30-plus starts in 2015.
But the potential for the appearances he does make is high — he has a career 112 ERA+ — and fits with the Dodgers’ defensively enhanced infield.
“Over the past three seasons, no starting pitcher logging at least 100 innings has generated a higher ground ball rate than Anderson (61.4%),” wrote David Golebiewski at Gammons Daily. “His expected fielding independent ERA (a measure of pitcher skill based on strikeouts, walks, and homers per fly ball allowed) over that time frame is 3.30, far below the 3.91 overall average for starters.”
The bet here, essentially, is to get as many great starts as you can from the No. 5 spot in the Dodger rotation (behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy), then fill in as needed behind them.
Ellis: When we signed Anderson, got a text from Clayton saying 'this is huge we got a guy with probably the best stuff in baseball' #Dodgers
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) December 22, 2014
(Tweet via Dodgers Blue Heaven)
Anderson’s most productive season was his rookie year in 2009, when he pitched 175 1/3 innings with a 3.69 FIP and 150 strikeouts against 228 baserunners.
In 2014, Anderson suffered a freak injury in April, a fractured index finger that came when he was hit by a pitch and that cost him three months of playing time. Then in August, he had surgery to repair a bulging disk in his back.
Arruebarrena, himself a defensive whiz at short, nevertheless could be heading elsewhere despite signing a five-year contract in February, unless he clears waivers and isn’t traded. The soon-to-be 25-year-old had a .244 on-base percentage and .220 slugging percentage in 45 plate appearances with the Dodgers, in between OPSing .721 at four levels of the minors.