Rays Loss Has Been Indians Gain With Anderson
Craig Gifford | On 02, Jul 2015
When it comes to truly evaluating a draft pick that was or was not made or a trade that was or was not made, fans, the media and the organizations typically can get a gauge on whether the move was right or not after about two years. Two games or so into a career for any player is impossible to really judge how his career will eventually work out.
That said, two games into Cody Anderson‘s young Major League career, the Tampa Bay Rays have to feel like they really let one get away. At least their record this season against the Cleveland Indians might be a little better.
Anderson was initially drafted by Tampa, out of California’s little known Feather River College, in the 17th round of the 2010 amateur draft. Anderson and the Rays could not come to a contractual agreement by the league’s deadline and he regained his amateur status.
The following year, the Indians made Anderson their 14th round selection. The two sides were able to get a deal done, making Anderson a member of the Tribe organization.
Thanks to injuries to other starters and his best year of minor league baseball to this point, Anderson finally caught the attention of Cleveland management this season. He has made two fantastic starts. He has looked as good as almost any rookie ever has pitching in his first two MLB contests. In those two outings, Anderson has gone 1-0 with an astounding 0.57 ERA in 15.2 frames. All of that work has come against the team that drafted him and had the first shot at signing him, Tampa.
While it is far too early to say the Rays made a huge mistake and the Indians received the gift of a lifetime is hard to say. Anderson had little time in Triple-A Columbus. He has had even less time in the Majors and only work against one team in which to make any sort of observations on.
However, Anderson has now helped to snap two Tribe losing skids and has pitched better than any No. 5 starter has this season for Cleveland as the team has tried everything to shore up the final spot in its rotation. Anderson has really put together as good a back-to-back outings as just about any pitcher in the Majors has this season.
On June 21, the Indians had lost the first two games of the three-game home set against Tampa. Needing a new No. 5 hurler after jettisoning veteran Shaun Marcum, Cleveland turned to Anderson.
Anderson was far from the team’s first choice, coming out of spring training, to round out the rotation. However, injuries to Josh Tomlin and Gavin Floyd, combined with Marcum’s inability to have consecutive good starts and the injuries and ineffectiveness to T.J. House caused the Tribe to seek answers elsewhere.
That Anderson found himself in the Majors at all this season is a shock. It seemed, after last year, that his career could be stalled at Double-A Akron. He’d received a promotion to the Rubber Ducks at the end of the 2013 campaign and did not pitch well in three appearances. A full season in Akron last year did not go well, either. Ander was 4-11, with a 5.44 ERA in 25 outings and was nowhere near anyone’s big league radar when the 2015 Cactus League began.
A light seemingly went on this season for the 24-year-old right hander. In 10 games with the Ducks, he was superb, going 3-2 with a 1.73 ERA. His early-season work, combined with some injuries, made the Indians promote Anderson to Columbus. He made three starts there before the to the majors. With the Clippers, he was 1-1, with a 2.33 ERA. It was a small sampling, but good enough for the suddenly pitching-needy Tribe to give Anderson what could have simply been a spot start.
Anderson did so well in his Major League debut that Cleveland could not send him back to the minors – not with the way the No. 5 pitchers had thrown to that point. In his debut contest, Anderson 7.2 innings, allowing no runs on six hits, striking out four batters and walking one. He did not get the win because Cleveland broke a scoreless tie with a walk-off run in the bottom of the ninth.
On Monday, in Tampa, Anderson was even better. Entering that game, the Tribe had lost three straight, including being shut out twice in Sunday’s ill-fated double header in Baltimore. The team was reeling and beginning to have the look and feel of squad that was lost and looking at a promising season going kaput.
Then Anderson dominated the Rays. He was throwing a perfect game until former Indian Grady Sizemore hit a home run with one out in the eighth. That would be the only run Anderson would allow through eight innings in Cleveland’s much-need 6-2 victory. He fanned two hitters, walking none.
To say the least, Anderson has earned himself at least another start. With the way his career has started, one would think Anderson has earned enough slack to stick around for a little while, even if the wheels were to fall off for a start or two.
Cleveland’s newest fifth starter has certainly opened eyes. There, of course, is the fear that he could be a one-hit, couple-start or even one-year wonder as we have seen a lot players become. He was not highly regarded out of college, having been drafted after so many before him in two drafts.
Still, Anderson has given Cleveland hope. In a season that seemed hopeless just a few days ago, that some semblance of hope has been restored is big for the Indians.
It will be interesting to see what Anderson does when he faces a team not name the Tampa Bay Rays. When he faces a team that allowed him to go back to the following season’s MLB draft. He could well have an axe to grind.
However, given that Anderson was putting things together so well in the minors. Given that Anderson was pitching this year better than ever before in his profession career, it seems plausible that he could turn into one of those guys, like a Corey Kluber, who turn into much more than was ever expected.
The beginning of Anderson’s Major League journey has definitely been fun to watch. Hopefully the rest of it will be as much so.
Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images