by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Just when it looked like the Angels had solved their 9th inning woes, Keynan Middleton has hit the DL with elbow issues and the team is right back in a state of flux. We all know most of the names that are going to be thrown around as candidates to step in, and it’s the same underwhelming options that struggled ahead of Middleton’s emergence:
- Cam Bedrosian
- Jim Johnson
- Blake Parker
Many viewed Bedrosian as the favorite, but his blown save yesterday basically ends that speculation. Instead of going back to the same mediocre options, could a sleeper emerge? Enter Justin Anderson, a rookie who has thrived over his first five appearances (5.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7 K) and has a chance to run with the role if given the opportunity.
Anderson saw time at Double & Triple-A prior to joining Los Angeles, tossing 8.2 IP while pitching to the tune of a 0.00 ERA and 0.43 WHIP. We all know that surface numbers can be deceiving, but his 14.54 K/9 (courtesy of a 19.1% SwStr%), 2.08 BB/9 and 69.2% groundball rate scream of an elite relief arm.
Granted it was a small sample size, but in his 5.0 IP he’s shown somewhat similar skills:
- 60 K/9 (16.9% SwStr%)
- 40 BB/9
- 5% groundball rate
Anderson is a former starting pitcher so we can’t simply compare his minor league career numbers to what he’s done thus far. He didn’t start relieving until 2017, when he posted a 4.36 BB/9 and struggled to generate swings and misses (9.1% SwStr%). Is this a case of an unbelievable 13.2 IP or has a light switch gone off?
At this point it’s easy to conclude that something has changed, with a fastball that’s averaging 98.1 mph being paired with a slider he’s thrown 62.9% of the time. It’s clearly a nasty combination, and the 25-year old has been baffling hitters at every level in ’18.
Middleton isn’t expected to be out long so Anderson may not get an opportunity to stake a full-time claim on the role, but if he’s pitching lights out is it the craziest idea? Unlikely maybe, but when you are putting up the numbers Anderson currently is anything is possible.
Fantasy Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- 10 Team League – Monitor closely
- 12 Team League – Worth speculative add if need saves
- 14+ Team League – Must Add
- AL-Only League – Must Add
- Keeper/Dynasty – Must Add
Sources – MLB.com, Fangraphs, MILB.com
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