Tyler Anderson has been better than expected for the M’s

Tyler Anderson’s seven inning, seven strikeout performa BC nce on Monday night in Oakland was his best since he came over in a trade on July 28th. His absolute dominance of the Athletics was best captured in the below .gif.

That being said, he’s not only been consistent but he’s also put together the best string of starts in his career since the trade. So far since he came over, he’s pitched 56 innings while posting an ERA of 3.38 with a FIP of 3.91 and xFIP of 4.62. Those are among career best numbers in two of those three stats.

His benefited from reducing his walk rate to 4.3% from his 18 starts in Pittsburgh this season to become an even better pitcher on the fringes of the playoff race. Anderson is even stranding 81.8% of base runners with a lower walk rate, his success in Seattle makes even more sense. The 31-year old south paw has even been consistent with his strikeout rate despite facing the designated hitter and not pitchers.

While Anderson has consistently used his fastball throughout his career, he’s picked up his usage to 50.3% since the trade; he’s also used his change-up more, which has led to a decline in usage of his cutter and curveball. Which has led to a higher percentage of swings on pitches inside and outside of the zone. The increased swings have not led to more consistent contact against the 31-year old as its been consistent.

One of the reason’s he’s been able to generate more swings, but not more contact, is his ability to pitches away from batters.

His ability to keep the ball away from hitters with the M’s has helped the 31-year old induce more soft contact than he had as a Pirate in 2021 — in fact his M’s soft contact rate is his best in a full season since 2018.

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While the 2021 season is winding down, the big question going forward is how sustainable is this performance? One of Anderson’s biggest hallmarks is his consistency as a No. 4/5 starter that eats innings; but what he’s done as a Mariner is a No. 3 starter. None of his peripherals stats show that this isn’t sustainable, and his reliance on his increased usage of his change-up should offset the decline that will come with his fastball as he ages.

It’s become clear in the last couple of days that Anderson would like to test free agency and see what the market offers him. And I can’t blame him for wanting to take advantage of the impressive second half performance he’s put together. But I would be shocked if he’s offered any contract longer than three years, a fourth year would make sense only if a team is trying to put its offer over the others competing for his services.

As for the size of his the contract, anything that’s over $10 to $12 million a year would be a surprise as well. I think most teams would prefer to offer extra years to a dependable No. 4/5 starter than dollars to win his services on the open market. And that would make since for the 31-year old as his pitch selection and usage are the type that typically age well. I’m expecting to see him sign for three years, roughly $32 or $36 million with an option for a fourth year; but would not be surprised to see a four year, $44 million contract come his way either.

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