Brett Anderson (Ownership rates: Yahoo 29%, ESPN 17.1%, CBS 36%)
Brett Anderson just cannot stay healthy. This much is clear by now. Since making 30 starts for Oakland in 2009, he has made a total of 43 major-league starts from 2010 through 2013. The 25-year-old lefty has spent most of this season on the disabled list yet again and hasn’t pitched in the majors since April.
When Anderson originally started his rehab assignment, the A’s were planning on bringing him back as a reliever. However, when Bartolo Colon hit the disabled list, Oakland reevaluated their plans and decided to stretch Anderson back out to be a starter.
Likely due to a combination of the injury and the initial reports of Anderson returning in a bullpen role, he is widely available in fantasy leagues. While he obviously is a constant injury risk, we’re late enough in the season that fantasy owners really don’t need him for long.
Anderson’s surface stats were less than impressive in April, with a 6.21 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in 29 innings, but it is a very small sample with lots of noise in it. His strand rate was a career-low 58.4 percent, and he was on a career-high pace in BABIP (.341) and home-run-to-fly-ball ratio (14.3 percent). The resulting 3.94 FIP and 3.59 xFIP indicate that he wasn’t pitching nearly as poorly as it seemed.
Aside from his health, the one concern I have with Anderson right now is his lack of control this year. He walked 15 batters in his 29 innings in the majors and has struggled with free passes on his rehab assignment, as well. However, I’m going to trust his 2.36 career walks-per-nine-innings rate in 435 career major-league innings over an extremely small sample from 2013. Anderson always has had excellent command, and I believe he’ll figure it out.
Anderson is hardly ever healthy, but when he is, he’s an excellent fantasy commodity. He has a 3.74 ERA and 3.56 FIP in his career and a WHIP of 1.27. He’s not a big strikeout guy, but his 7.03 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate isn’t low enough to hurt fantasy owners, either. Also, keep in mind that he pitches his home games in the pitcher’s paradise of O.co Coliseum.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin knows how fragile Anderson is and isn’t planning to keep him on a minor-league rehab assignment for long:
#Athletics' Bob Melvin on Brett Anderson: "We don’t want to waste his bullets on rehab assignments." Anderson's next rehab outing Thursday.
— Steve Kroner (@SteveKronerSF) August 18, 2013
It’s likely that your waiver wire is pretty thin on quality starting pitchers this time of year. It’s also likely that Anderson is available in your league. If he is, pick him up and stash him on your disabled list. If he comes back at 100 percent health, he should provide good value down the stretch.