The 26-year-old lefty is straight up dealing with a 10.7 K/9 and only a 1.6 BB/9. No pitcher with a strikeout as high as his has a lower walk rate. His K%-BB% is the 12th best among qualified starters.
Gonzales’s great start is being hidden by a .406 BABIP fueled 4.37 ERA. While he struggled giving up runs in his first three starts, he allows nothing in his last two. Gonzales may finally be living up to some of his prospect status from a few years back.
With Gonzales, I think any prospect reports and grades need to be thrown out and new profile needs to be created because of his 2015 Tommy John surgery. He struggled with the strike zone (44% Zone%) last season and got hit around allowing a .383 BABIP and 1.8 HR/9.
For 2018, his velocity looks down from BIS data (91.5 mph to 89.9 mph) but the drop is from mixing in a new sinker and cutter. These two pitches, mixed with his 2017 pitches (four-seam, curve, and change) give him a five-pitch mix. His changeup has been his big swing-and-miss (16%) pitch. His four-seamer and sinker both have a similar 6% SwStr% but the four-seamer is elite in giving up flyballs (23% GB%) and the sinker generates groundballs (60%). While he’s thrown his cutter the least, it has produced a 13% SwStr%. And then there is his worthless curveball.
The curve seemed to be a distant third offering while coming up through the minors. It’s a below average curve with a 10% SwStr% and way below average 33% GB%. He career numbers are just as bad. With the addition of the sinker and cutter, I could see him transition away from the curve. The change hasn’t happened this season with its usage between 14% and 27%.
Besides two new pitches, he has attacked the strike zone with a Zone% at a career-high mark of 54%. By throwing strikes, he can continue keeping his low walk rate.
Finally, there is the issue with him getting hit hard but I can’t find any underlying theme. Lefties are doing most of the damage. The results are worse when the count is even. He can throw all his pitches for strikes so the hitter can’t wait on a single pitch. If anything, he may be getting too much of the plate allowing for solid contact. I’m going to given his batted ball data the “luck” label and expect it to regress during the season.
Overall, I’m buying him when possible. He had prospect pedigree. He’s finally healthy. And most importantly, he’s effective. Right now, his ownership rate is 27% at FanTrax. Buy now before owners start digging past his ERA.
The 28-year-old lefty gets a token glance because his 14.2% swinging-strike rate is the 8th highest among qualified starters. The bump up has his strikeout rate going up for the second straight season (7.8 K/9 to 8.5 K/9 to 9.7 K/9). The problem is that his walk rate has trended up also (2.2 BB/9 to 2.7 BB/9 to 5.0 BB/9).
All of his pitches are performing better than last season with each at a 10% SwStr% or higher. Now, he’s slowed down his curveball by 4 mph and the pitch has a nice 18% SwStr% in limited usage.
Besides the changes in plate discipline, he’s going full flyball with a league-low 21% GB%. He hasn’t seen a lower BABIP from the high flyball number but hopefully will soon. It’s a little crazy that his batted balls are all going for flyballs with a small drop in velocity. Usually, with a velocity drop, a pitch will get more sink and therefore more groundballs. The opposite is happening with Anderson
Overall, Anderson’s stock hasn’t changed. While the extra strikeouts are nice, they are offset by the walk rate increase. His flyball nature will likely keep his ERA under his ERA estimators. He’s a streaming option depending on his weekly opponent(s). Anderson has pitched better at home in Colorado (3.00 ERA in 2018, 3.36 career) than on the road (5.54 ERA in 2018, 5.17 career). He may be better suited to Colorado because of his flyball nature and their spacious outfield.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.