I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again. In order for the Oakland Athletics to be successful in the 2013 season, Brett Anderson would have to stay healthy. The A’s have evolved from an all pitching team with little offense a couple years ago, to a team more than capable of putting crooked numbers on the board while still being able to shut down an opponent’s offense. But their ability to shut down those offenses is diminished when the likes of Brett Anderson is unavailable.
We are all very familiar with the elbow problems Anderson has had in the past, and he spent many months on the disabled list as he continuously attempted to rehab his elbow in order to avoid undergoing the dreaded Tommy John surgery. As we all know, his attempts to avoid that surgery failed and he went under the knife in 2011. Upon his return in 2012 he injected life into the Athletics starting rotation. But his triumphant return was short-lived. During the Athletics hellacious road trip through New York, Detroit, and Texas Brett Anderson went down with an oblique injury. It had nothing to do with the arm problems he endured in the previous couple years, but it would put Anderson out of commission for the next few weeks. It wouldn’t cost the Athletics a spot in the postseason of course, but there’s no telling what his presence down the stretch could have meant for the team.
Going into the 2013 season, I made a clear point that Anderson had to avoid these small injuries that seem to find him. He is an essential piece to the Athletics puzzle this year, and the team suffers when he’s out. It hasn’t gone very well at all to say the least. In the spring, Anderson had to leave one of his starts with back stiffness, it didn’t cost him his next start but it was an immediate red flag that Anderson may not be in for a healthy 2013. He made it through the rest of the spring with no further incidents.
During Anderson’s second start of the season he lacerated a finger on his pitching hand as he repeatedly and inexplicably attempted to field a come-backer with his bare hand. I have no idea why he though this would be a good idea, but sometimes a pitcher just needs to let the ball get through and allow the defense behind him to do their jobs. Again, we were spared as Anderson would be able to make his next start. But we were only spared him missing a start, he was ineffective against the Detroit Tigers, and there had to have been an adverse effect from the finger injury.
Then came Friday night versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Brett Anderson pitched just 1 inning, and it was a very poor inning to say the least. He allowed 4 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks and sprained his ankle in the process of throwing a pitch. There won’t be word until tomorrow as to the severity of the injury, but regardless it’s a bad sign.
It’s April, and Anderson has been injured to some degree twice already in the first 17 games of the season. I spent the entire offseason decrying the fact that the Athletics didn’t pursue any additional starting pitching depth, and with Anderson’s injuries and Jarrod Parker‘s ineffectiveness that lack of pursuit seems like a mistake. With Travis Blackley out of the organization, there isn’t much in the way of depth beyond Dan Straily in Triple A, and he needs to be down there to hone his command. The Athletics are walking a tight rope with this pitching staff, and if they continue to wobble like they are, it’ll only be a matter of time before they fall off.
Perhaps they should have traded him when they had the chance.