Last season was probably a time in Cody Anderson’s life that he wish he could forget.
For the opening day starting pitcher for the Double-A Akron RubberDucks, things could not have gone any worse for him in his career as it did in 2014. Anderson, 24, came into the 2014 season looking like the obvious ace of the RubberDucks rotation. After receiving the Bob Feller Award in 2013 for being the best starting pitcher in the Indians minor league system, he looked to build off of his progress from the previous season. In 2013, he spent time split between High-A Carolina and Akron, he posted an ERA of 2.65 and a WHIP of 1.18. In the 136 innings he pitched between the two teams, he struck out 122 batters, and only walked 40. He struggled in three games with Akron as he posted an ERA of 5.68, but he excelled in Carolina with an ERA of 2.34 in 23 starts. Hoping that his early struggles in Akron were only due to nerves, and getting used to the league, Anderson was looking to start off strong in 2014.
April started off decently well as he posted an ERA of 3.60 in 25 innings. In those 5 games though, he only struck out 13 batters, and was only averaging 5 innings per start. In 2013, he averaged about 5.1 innings per start, which still isn’t very fantastic. Once May rolled around, things started to really go south for Anderson. In six starts for the RubberDucks, Anderson posted an ERA of 4.96, WHIP of 1.47 and struck out 20 while walking 11. Batters were hitting about .287 off of him during this time, and things Anderson could just not pull it together. He started off the month by going 6.2 innings while only giving up one run, but to only follow that up with a start where he only went 2.2 innings and gave up 10 runs.
It seemed as though Anderson never felt comfortable on the mound in 2014. His velocity seemed to still be there as he was throwing close to 95 mph with his fastball. Something just seemed off with him though.
Following Anderson’s start of giving up 10 runs in 2.2 innings, he was able to follow that up with four consecutive starts of giving up three or less runs. This was until he hit June, where he drove himself into another bad outing where he gave up 10 runs in 3 innings. He ended June with an ERA of 7.15 in only 22.2 innings pitched within 5 starts. Anderson never seemed to get it together in 2014. He wasn’t striking people out, he ended up walking way too many batters, and left way too many men on base.
The second half of the season for Anderson was much worse than the first half. His second half ERA stood at 7.67 with a WHIP of 1.47. He also missed some starts towards the end of the season. At the end of the season, Anderson had an ERA of 5.44, WHIP of 1.48, 125.2 innings pitched in 25 games, and had 81 strikeouts to 45 walks.
What’s alarming about Anderson’s season in 2014 is the average of the opposing hitters against him. Righties were hitting .233, but lefties were hitting .345 against the big right-hander. He wasn’t able to control the ball very well against left handed batters, which is a huge issue going forward for someone who wants to be a starting pitcher in the MLB. Going into 2014, Anderson was listed as the Indians fourth best prospect by MLB.com. Now, he’s dropped down to their tenth. He has incredible value in the farm system due to the potential that he has, but he needs to show everyone that he still has it.
A lot of what seemed like Anderson’s issue was his mechanics. Whether he didn’t condition well in the offseason, or he was working through issues throughout the season, it doesn’t matter now. What does matter is that he comes back in 2015 with the idea that he needs to wipe away 2014 and look forward. Anderson definitely has the potential and the makeup of a major league pitcher. The Indians believe so as well when the converted him from an outfielder to a starting pitcher after he was drafted.
In order for Anderson to be successful again, he’ll need to analyze what went wrong during his time in Double-A. He has yet to show his abilities at the Double-A level, so that will be his biggest challenge in 2015. If he wants to continue to progress through and move into Triple-A at some point, he’ll need to prove his worth against batters at the Double-A level. Aside from lefty Justus Sheffield, who was drafted in 2014, Anderson is the only other pitcher listed in the Indians top 10 prospects. It’s critical that he returns to his 2013.
There’s only one place left for Anderson to go, and that’s up. When you hit rock bottom, you know it. I think Anderson knows what he has to do now, and he’ll be on a mission this season to show the Indians why they should still believe in him.
Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer