Can Cody Anderson Seize a Rotation spot?

(Photo courtesy of Lianna Holub Photography & Design)
The Indians 5th starter spot has been a revolving door since opening day, as T.J House's health, Bruce Chen's relative incompetence and Shaun Marcum's mercurial performances have made a mess of every fifth game.

Cody Anderson is yet another attempt to stabilize the final spot in what is an elite rotation and in many regards, fans should be quite optimistic about Anderson's ability to do just that.

Anderson sits between 91 and 93 with his fastball reaching 95/96 at times. Outside of the velocity, one of the most important aspects of his arsenal is the sink on his fastball, it has created a ground ball first profile, the value of which we will touch on in a moment.

Anderson's best breaking ball is an average to above average slider which can produce some swings and misses, controlling this offering is central to his success. Anderson has to both be able to use for strikes when down in the count in order to vary off his fastball and to get swings and misses below the zone when up in the count.

Anderson then relies on two more offerings as change of pace offerings, a curveball that is fringe-average and a below average changeup.

The biggest question mark raised in 2014 was command and control, specifically in regard to the fastball. Anderson struggled to throw strikes in 2014 and struggled further to control his fastball in the strike zone, as keeping the ball down and inducing ground balls is his best skill.

Both reports and the minor league data which are a proxy for command and control have shown significant improvement for Anderson which was the last significant step.

The key litmus test will be whether the leaps in walk rate and HR prevention will stick as he advances to the big league level.

It is important to note that 2014 was likely the outlier in terms of command and control as Anderson's walk rates, while better than 2012-2013 are far more similar to those seasons than his 2014 struggles in Akron.

As Anderson's command and control grades have ticked up, the outcomes have improved significantly creating well reasoned optimism.

The most positive aspect about Anderson, however, is the quality of fit he offers for the big league roster and Progressive Field.

The fastball and secondary offering make Anderson a ground ball dominant starter, which for the first time in a long time is a dynamic advantage.

First ground ball dominant starters have significant value as ground balls rarely result in extra base hits which are immense run creation tools.

Second, Anderson will be inducing ground balls in front of an infield defense that is, dare I say, above average.

With Lindor at shortstop, Urshela at third, the Indians now have two above average defenders on the left side of the infield. Further, Kipnis has been vastly improved defensively at second base in 2015 grading out as average to above average. Though, Santana is a tick below average, this infield defense is now highly favorable for a ground ball pitcher.

The last tick is park factor, as a RHP Anderson will likely face more lefties than righties, which is unfavorable as Progressive Field is favorable for left handed hitters in terms of hitting home runs.

However, Anderson's ground ball dominant profile will limit the park effects by limiting the frequency of fly balls.

While the walk rate will likely rise a tick, if the overarching command skills remain, which is likely, combined with his ground ball inducing arsenal and the Indians infield defense, Cody Anderson is a very good bet to seize the 5th spot in the rotation.

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