When Tyler Anderson was called up to make his MLB debut in mid-June, he had less than 24 hours between the time the Rockies informed him of his promotion and stepping to the pitcher’s mound for his first big-league start.
Few people would’ve been surprised to see Anderson chew up some innings and then return to Albuquerque. The Rockies were in the middle of a stretch where they played on 27 straight days. They were dealing with some injuries. They just needed arms.
Except a funny thing happened when Anderson finally got his chance: He dazzled on a hot day at Coors Field, allowing one earned run in 6 ⅓ innings.
Ever since, Anderson’s had staying power.
He made his seventh start of the year Monday night against the Tampa Bay Rays and impressed yet again, giving up four earned runs in 6 ⅓ innings as the Rockies earned a 7-4 win to move to 43-49.
The 26-year-old left hander, perhaps first seen as a stopgap solution, has muscled his way into the Rockies’ starting rotation. And it doesn’t look like he’s going elsewhere any time soon.
“It’s a game where you have to attack,” said Anderson, who’s sporting a 3.43 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP. “If you attack and throw strikes, you have a much better chance, especially here.”
Anderson’s been successful this year by pounding the zone and forcing guys to hit dribblers instead of fly balls that carry in the thin Colorado air. Following Monday’s start, he’d induced 79 ground outs versus 47 fly outs.
He’s not overpowering — with a fastball in the low 90’s — but he has shown tremendous command.
He’s also not afraid to throw his off-speed stuff, regardless of the situation.
“I think the changeup is a reason for that,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said when asked about Anderson’s success at Coors Field. “We’ve seen (Jorge) De La Rosa do it for years here with that changeup. When you can throw that pitch, and it’s a plus pitch, you can really finish at-bats with it.”
And Anderson has. In five starts at Coors Field, he’s given up 11 earned runs, struck out 26 batters and walked seven in 30 ⅓ innings. Not bad for a guy who started 2016 in single-A Modesto.
Anderson was always productive in the minors.
Mostly, it was injuries that held him back. He dealt with some shoulder issues in 2013 and then a fractured elbow that cost him all of 2015.
It took him five years after he was drafted in 2011 to make his big-league debut. Maybe he arrived this season through a weird confluence of events. But everything Anderson’s done since making that June 12 debut has been proof that he belongs.
“It’s a great time to be here,” Anderson said after Monday’s win. “Our offense is clicking a little bit, and our starters as a whole are feeding off each other and getting better. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of.”