Anderson's offseason work has him vying for roster spot

March 18th, 2024

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- ’s funky delivery is the first thing that immediately stands out when watching him pitch. Controlling that delivery is also what Anderson spent much of his offseason working on.

“It was mainly just getting my pitches to move more like how they did in the previous years,” he explained. “Last year, surprisingly, all the movement on my pitches was down and I revisited my mechanics a little bit and see what the difference was. I wanted to get myself to move back to how I typically would move before.”

Anderson further elaborated:

“Last year I was kind of closing myself off. When I would go down the mound, I would go towards the right-handed batter. My whole delivery would go that way. So it made it harder for me to get all the way through and finish the pitches and stuff like that. I opened myself up a little more and then just stayed a little more to the plate instead of having that weird angle. It’s to just stay on straight to the plate and then it works itself out from there.”

Anderson went into the offseason intent on fixing those mechanical issues that specifically led to left-handers hitting .326 off of him last year.

Manager Bruce Bochy noted Anderson needed to be better working in different quadrants -- mainly up and in, and down and away -- to make him more effective against batters from either side of the plate. As a multi-inning reliever, that ability could be what makes or breaks his likelihood of breaking camp with the big league club.

Now this spring, Anderson has allowed no runs and logged seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 Cactus League innings. He’s put himself in prime position to show that he can contribute to the big league club again.

“He’s a strike-thrower and gets movement,” Bochy said. “He’s having a really good spring. It's not easy to have a good spring here [in Arizona].”

A 21st-round Draft pick out of McNeese State, Anderson seemingly burst onto the scene out of nowhere when he made his MLB debut against the Tigers on May 30 of last season. That night, he retired eight of the nine Detroit hitters he faced, picking up four consecutive strikeouts to open his outing and finishing with seven K’s in 2 2/3 innings out of the bullpen.

He remained a quality arm out of the bullpen through June, posting a 3.60 ERA in 15 innings that month before things derailed in July. Anderson ultimately posted a 7.94 ERA in July and a 5.40 ERA in August before spending the remainder of the regular season with Triple-A Round Rock.

“I would say that they don't just adjust, I guess they adjust faster than Triple-A hitters,” Anderson said of his struggles down the stretch. “But partially it was me. I was just not used to that adjustment period happening that quickly. I think it was just that Major League hitters are really good and then they adjust really quickly, so it was something for me to get used to.”

Behind the group of high-leverage arms of José Leclerc, David Robertson, Kirby Yates and Josh Sborz, the Rangers are ending camp with an open competition for those last few bullpens spots. A number of internal competitors and non-roster invitees have put themselves right in the thick of things.

“I really try not to think about it too much,” Anderson said of breaking camp with the big league club. “I'm still here, so I guess that’s a good sign. But at the end of the day, I just got to do what I can do. Hopefully Boch and [pitching coach] Mike [Maddux] and them like it. They pick who they pick. If they don’t pick me, then I’ll just keep working.”