What can a couple of comebackers and an accidental bump on the head in the dugout do to derail a pitcher?
That sounds like a rather strange question, but the answer something that Oakland Athletics ace Brett Anderson might know a thing or two about.
Okay, so I’m being somewhat facetious there. The trio of bad fortunes suffered by the young lefty coming off his second start of the 2013 season — a six-inning, 10-strikeout domination of the Houston Astros — may have had absolutely nothing to do with the three outings that have followed.
Still, it’s a notable coincidence that he’s struggled mightily since.
In that sense, the 25-year old’s start on Wednesday against the Boston Red Sox could be a one-game encapsulation of his year thus far.
What you’ll see on his line — six ER on eight hits and two walks over four-plus innings — may be somewhat deceiving, as Anderson actually dominated through his first time around the order. In fact, though the first three innings, the left-hander looked like he was well on his way to a solid outing, striking out four while allowing just one hit and a walk.
But then, much like it has in his last few starts, the wheels came off.
By the time he was being BABIP’d to death in the fifth inning (four straight ground ball hits) to put an end to his day without getting an out in the frame, well, the damage had already long been done. In short, it was a mix of humbling bad luck and inability to recover that doomed Anderson, who has not yet found a way to return to the ace form that he showed as the Athletics’ Opening Day starter.
Was it just the increased level of competition over his past three starts (Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays, Red Sox) over the AL West opponents he’d faced? I won’t deny that it looks that way, and it’s probably a partial factor. That said, the numbers also suggest another story.
The .366 BABIP (.305 over career) paints a partial picture, but when you combine that with the fact that this is still a pitcher who is generating more ground balls than ever (63 percent) and that most of them are not well-hit (career-low 13.7 percent line drives, career-high 13 percent infield hits)?
Let’s just say the baseball gods aren’t exactly huge fans thus far, and they’re doing their part to show it.
Still, Anderson does have a 4.94 BB/9 rate through 23.2 innings, so he’s not exactly helping himself much there right now. Luck or not, though, the A’s will find little consolation until the counting numbers (7.23/1.77 ERA/WHIP) comes down for their No. 1 pitcher — something that should happen sooner rather than later.