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2022 Dodgers in review: Tyler Anderson

Anderson quickly cemented himself as an invaluable part of the Dodgers’ starting rotation this season.

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Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres - Game Four Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

At the beginning of the season, FanGraphs projected that Tyler Anderson would see fewer than 100 innings as a starter for the Dodgers. Instead, he became an integral part of the team’s rotation, leading their staff with a career-high 178 23 innings pitched and becoming the latest Dodgers pitching transformation.

Anderson signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers in March after splitting his 2021 season between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners, where he posted a combined 4.53 ERA. He took on a starting role after Andrew Heaney’s mid-April injury, a job that solidified thanks in part to his own strong performance as well as to the loss of several other rotation members to various injuries. By the end of the 2022 season, Anderson had transitioned into a full-fledged starter with a career-best 2.57 ERA, the fifth-best ERA in the National League.

What turned him into a guy manager Dave Roberts could trust? Anderson isn’t known for the speed of his pitches, but with such stellar command and a strong sense of pitch positioning, miles-per-hour are only part of the equation.

This year, Anderson made some significant changes to his pitches, according to FanGraphs. His changeup has intentionally slowed down, but it moves more and has a bigger drop. The pitch was particularly effective against righties. Anderson also dropped the positioning of his sinker, which he throws only to left-handed hitters and releases a foot lower than most other pitches. As a result of these tweaks, Anderson finished in the 98th percentile of all pitchers in terms of exit velocity and hard-hit rate.

Anderson’s discipline and competitive nature were other major contributors to his success. His meticulous note-taking habit, which he’s had for nearly a decade, has helped him maintain a routine, better understand what makes him tick as a pitcher, and improve.

“Definitely, he’s intense,” pitching coach Mark Prior said to L.A. Times reporter Jack Harris in July. “He comes in with a plan every single day to get himself better, and he holds himself accountable. I think that’s the main thing. This isn’t by accident. He comes well-prepared.”

Anderson gave up a total of 145 hits and 34 walks with 138 strikeouts this year, ending the season with a 15-5 record. It’s no wonder he earned himself his first All-Star Game spot in 2022.

“For me, it really does just feel like I made a good decision to come here,” Anderson said after getting the news of his selection. “Obviously, I’d feel like that either way [with or without the All-Star selection]. But it is just maybe a little validation. Going into the offseason, there were opportunities to go other places and maybe go for more years. But instead, took a chance to come to this team and try to be on a winning team this year.”

2022 particulars

Age: 32

Stats: 2.57 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 1.002 WHIP, 138 K, 178.2 innings, 4.3 bWAR, 4.0 fWAR

Salary: $8 million

Game of the year

On June 15, Anderson thought he took a no-hitter against the Angels into the ninth inning. With just two outs to go, he gave up a triple to none other than his new rotation-mate, Shohei Ohtani. But a seventh-inning throwing error by Anderson was later changed to a hit.

Anderson also pitched a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals earlier in the season.

Roster status

After declining the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, Anderson signed the first multi-year deal of his career: a three-year, $39 million contract with the Angels.