Brett Anderson has long been considered one of Oakland’s brightest young pitchers, but injuries have limited the young lefty to just 32 starts over the past two years. This season was especially disappointing considering Anderson was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery this past July. He’s been making progress, but he’s not expected back in action until the second-half of the 2012 season at the earliest.
At 23, though, these type of arm/shoulder injuries are not an encouraging sight for a young pitcher. Anderson was sidelined twice during the 2010 season due to elbow inflammation, and his 2011 season was cut even shorter due to injuries.
He made 13 starts this year, going 3-6 with a 4.00 ERA over 83.1 innings. Luckily for the A’s, though, the team got extra help this year from Brandon McCarthy and Guillermo Moscoso to help ease the loss of Anderson.
Coming over as a part of the deal that sent Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks in ’07, Anderson has been considered the one Oakland pitcher with the most big league potential. Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez were thought to be behind Anderson in terms of talent, but Cahill and Gonzalez have emerged as All-Stars while Anderson is left in the trainer’s room.
Oakland’s “Big Three 2.0” has been only two-thirds complete these past two seasons, with Cahill and Gonzalez accounting for much of the starting rotation’s success. In 2010, Cahill and Gonzalez combined to win a total of 33 games and established themselves as up-and-coming stars.
Anderson should be in that same discussion of superstardom, but injuries have prevented his progression as a major league pitcher. His rookie campaign in 2009 opened a lot eyes and many thought he’d emerge as a young star in 2010. Injuries have eased those high expectations.
I hate to say it, but I see a little bit of Rich Harden in Anderson. Harden, as most of you already know, struggles to stay healthy every year, but can be downright nasty when he’s fully healthy. He’s always had the “stuff” of an ace, but his body just wasn’t built to last an entire MLB season.
Anderson, when healthy, also shares that same potential of being downright dominant. Seeing injuries prevent him from playing, however, is causing me to see the Harden-esque characteristics in Anderson. They’re obviously two completely different pitchers, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that they do share the same level of injury risk.
Hopefully for both Oakland and Anderson’s sake, though, Anderson continues to progress and show signs of improvement. Oakland hopes for Anderson to return sometime during the second-half of the 2012 season.