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2017 IBI Preview Capsule: Cody Anderson

Cody Anderson was, unfortunately, unable to replicate the success he had during his rookie campaign in 2015 as he struggled out of the gates last season as a starter and was moved to the bullpen midway through the campaign. So how and where will he pitch in 2017?

The IBI Preview Capsules are back for 2017 as Jake Dungan takes an in-depth look at all the players who could impact the Tribe in the upcoming season from the established stars to the prospects on the verge of being called up to the majors to the non-roster invites to spring training.

Cody Anderson, RHP

Throws: Right -- Bats: Right -- Entering his age-26 season -- Contract: Pre-arbitration (Eligible for arbitration in 2019)

2016 In Review: When Cody Anderson came up in 2015 for his first stint with the Tribe, he impressed right away going 3-1 with an 0.89 ERA in his first four starts in Cleveland. Overall, he went 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA in 15 starts to finish off an impressive rookie campaign. Last season was a different story, however, as the dreaded "sophomore slump" appeared to take its toll as the right-hander went just 2-5 with a 6.68 ERA in 19 games (nine starts). After making the team out of spring training as a starter, Anderson went 0-1 with a 7.65 ERA in his first four starts before his first trip back to Triple-A. The 26-year-old bounced back and forth between Columbus and Cleveland over the next several months until rejoining the team in September during roster expansion and pitching out of the bullpen. As a starter, Anderson posted a 1-4 record with a 7.71 ERA in nine games while he went 1-1 with a 4.34 ERA in 10 appearances out of the bullpen. So which pitcher will we see in 2017 and how do the Indians plan to use him?

Versus Right-handers: While his year-to-year splits may have fluctuated over his career, overall, left and right-handed hitters have had relatively the same amount of success against Anderson. That being said, he has been a bit more effective against right-handers with a career .270/.312/.417 opposing slash line over his fledgling major league career spanning 34 appearances and 152 innings. The same has held true during much of his minor league career, although he has had outlier seasons of different extremes, such as 2014 where Anderson held right-handers to a .233 average and .664 OPS while lefties batted .345 with a .995 OPS. As far as his strikeout-to-walk ratio. It, too, has remained fairly constant throughout his professional career, even including the outlier years like 2014. Last season between Triple-A and the majors, right-handed batters slashed .299/.346/.448 against the California native, which was, once again, somewhat better than against southpaws, but still close in contrast.

Versus Left-handers: Like their right-handed counterparts, left-handed hitters have had varying degrees of success against Anderson over the years, but overall have kept roughly the same pace. In 2016, southpaws fared better against the right-hander batting .311 with a .910 OPS in 32 appearances between Columbus and Cleveland. That fits right in with his career norms where lefties have batted .280 with an .817 OPS in the majors and, aside from 2014 where they had far greater success than right-handers, more of the same has been achieved in the minor leagues. Basically Anderson is an all-or-nothing type of pitcher when it comes to his platoon splits. When he's on his game, no hitter is going to have any significant advantage because of which side of the plate they use and, conversely, when he struggles, batters from both sides are likely going to get their knocks in.

Pitch Mix: Heading into spring training last year, the buzz around Anderson was how he had conditioned even better than the previous offseason to the point where he had added a few ticks to his fastball. Well, his average velocity was 93.5 mph last season, up from 92.1 in his rookie campaign. The problem is it didn't help its effectiveness as the value of his heater plummeted 21 full runs above average from 7.7 to -13.3. Likewise his cutter and curveball also saw drops in value from 2015, although not nearly as severe. Only his changeup saw an increase from 1.5 to 2.8 runs above average. On the plus side, Anderson nearly doubled his strikeout rate from his rookie season while decreasing his walk rate. However, his groundball percentage also went down from 45.9% to 39.8%. Maybe 2016 was a rocky transition period off the 26-year-old redefining himself as a pitcher.

Fantasy Impact: So far we've seen two different extremes from Cody Anderson in his first two major league seasons. Law of averages would stand to reason that 2017 will bring about some sort of middle ground, right? Well, that's what the current projections models at Fangraphs appear to be banking on. While they only anticipate him appearing in a dozen games, which isn't surprising given the crowded pitching staff the Indians have right now, Steamer and Depth Charts have the right-hander going 1-1 with a 3.92 ERA. The way things stand at the moment, it would seem he and Mike Clevinger are the next in line to move to the rotation should injury or ineffectiveness open up a spot. Plus, they're both the prime candidates for the long-relief job in the bullpen.

Summary: There seem to be more questions than answers surrounding Anderson this spring. Was 2015 just beginner's luck? Can he pitch better as more of a strikeout pitcher than a groundball guy? Will the added velocity remain in tact? Can he use his fastball more effectively than last year? So far, there hasn't been any of the spring training clichés being bandied about the right-hander as in years past regarding his physical shape or offseason conditioning. Plus, he won't be a primary source of focus for the fans or media in camp like he was last spring when he was coming off his impressive rookie season. So maybe not having to be in the spotlight and under constant scrutiny can help in his preparation for the 2017 campaign. At the same time, this could be a big year for Anderson as he tries to prove he wasn't just a flash in the pan and that he can have sustainable success at the major league level.

Check out our other 2017 Preview Capsules here:

Jake Dungan is the Managing Editor for IBI and a podcast host on the Smoke Signals Network. Email him at jdungan@indiansbaseballinsider.com or follow him on Twitter @JakeDBaseball.


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