Milwaukee Brewers: What makes Chase Anderson “The Ace?”

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Chase Anderson
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Chase Anderson /

This season, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson took up the nickname “The Ace.”

It could just be the fact that it rhymes so nicely. But there is a nagging part of me that thinks his 12-4 record with a 2.74 ERA has something to do with it also. No doubt, Anderson has been an integral part of putting the Milwaukee Brewers in this playoff hunt.

Even after an injury sidelined Anderson for part of the season, he still has come back strong. The Crew find themselves right in the thick of things largely due to the play of their pitching staff.

So, now the title question comes back into play: What makes Chase “The Ace”?

The Opening Day starter was Junior Guerra. Unfortunately, that did not work out all to well for the Milwaukee Brewers. He found himself in the minors before the seasons end. But out of his ashes has risen anew.

Anderson broke into the MLB with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014. He had a pretty good rookie year, finishing tenth in the Rookie of the Year voting. Then his career turned mediocre in 2015.

During the off season prior to the 2016 campaign, Anderson was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers alongside Aaron Hill and Isan Diaz. The price for that deal sent Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner to Arizona.

There happened to be another new arrival in 2016 as well, pitching coach Derek Johnson. According to Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel, Johnson is doing wonders for the entire Brewer pitching staff.

The coaching can go a long way to the success of a staff overall. And the improvement to Anderson came at the right time. He was in the the midst of the worst season of his career. The 2016 year showed the most walks and homers allowed in his years in the MLB, along with the highest ERA.

However, Haudricourt points out that the last two months of that season showed Anderson with a 5-1 record and a 2.56 ERA. Which leads well into the stellar 2017 performance. It also speaks to the longevity aspect of his success, which bodes well.

I agree that Johnson is doing great things for Anderson off of the field that contribute to his success. But, it is the on field play that makes him shine through. Fangraphs paints a pretty clear picture of what is going right on the field.

The first number to look at his Anderson’s BABIP. In 2017, that number is .265, which is way down from previous seasons. Even during his solid year as a rookie, he still had a .313 BAPIP. He has found a way to miss more barrels, even when contact is made.

It is also worth mentioning his 80/6 percent rate of leaving runners on base. He was a career low to mid 70’s percentage through the first three years. His highest being 75.4 in 2014. This has a lot to do with both comfort and composure, which have shown through beautifully in 2017.

In order to do this, he had to change his approach to hitters. The biggest change is that he stopped using his fastball so much. From 2016 to 2017 the percentage thrown dropped four percent. This actually allowed the average velocity to rise two miles an hour as well.

Another door opened by that is the off speed usage. He is able to incorporate his other three pitches more often, meaning hitters can’t just sit dead red. It can make them a little less comfortable in the box, thus giving Anderson the immediate advantage.

Next: Should Brett Phillips start in 2018?

It has, no doubt, been a stellar season for both the Milwaukee Brewers and Chase “The Ace” Anderson. Whatever the 29 year old righty is doing is working. It has been been a huge part of getting the Crew to where they are now. In 2017, Chase definitely pitched like The Ace.