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Anderson, 33, had a strange 2020 season with the Toronto Blue Jays. He posted a 3.20 ERA in 19⅔ innings over five starts in August, then had a 12.86 ERA in five appearances (two starts) and got removed from the rotation in September.
But the Phillies believe Anderson’s track record in the last five full seasons is more indicative of his potential impact. From 2015 to 2019, he compiled a 3.93 ERA and averaged 149 innings per season for Milwaukee and Arizona, numbers that equate to a solid fourth or fifth starter.
Since 2018, in fact, Anderson has completed at least six innings while allowing fewer than three runs in 14 of 64 starts (21.9%). By comparison, Vince Velasquez did so in 12 of 60 starts (20%).
Anderson will compete with Velasquez, left-hander Matt Moore, and top pitching prospect Spencer Howard for two rotation spots behind Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin. The Phillies have also signed veteran right-hander Ivan Nova (19 instances of six or more innings with fewer than three runs in 67 starts since 2018) to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
There won’t be spots for all of them in the season-opening rotation. But there’s a good chance that each will be needed at some point.
“One of our main goals when I came over here was to get starting pitching depth,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Wednesday during a videoconference to announce Moore’s one-year, $3 million contract. “We didn’t think we had a lot of depth behind the first four and then No. 5 with Howard. We’re looking for some individuals who can compete for our spots.”
Teams must budget for nearly 1,500 innings in a 162-game season compared to the fewer than 600 that were required last year. As pitchers build back arm strength to withstand a longer season, the Phillies have considered deploying a six-man rotation, general manager Sam Fuld said recently.