Strike-throwing Anderson not missing bats

Rookie right-hander gets ahead in counts, but has trouble racking up K's

Strike-throwing Anderson not missing bats

CLEVELAND -- It's not an exaggeration to say that Indians starter Cody Anderson has had a start to his Major League career unlike any other.

The 24-year-old rookie became the first pitcher since at least 1914 to begin his career with four consecutive starts of at least 6 2/3 innings while allowing one run or no runs in each.

So, that's unique. But the way Anderson has approached hitters is unique as well.

Anderson is big, at 6-foot-4, and throws hard, with a fastball that clocks in close to 94 miles per hour on average. Yet, in a league currently dominated by hard-throwing strikeout pitchers, Anderson hasn't missed many bats, striking out just 12 batters in 33 innings.

Instead, his approach has been to consistently pound the strike zone, limiting walks while generating grounders and outs on balls in play.

It's not impossible to succeed with low strikeout totals -- it's largely worked for Anderson so far -- but it certainly makes things tougher. Anderson has struck out a shade under 10 percent of the batters he's faced so far this season. Major League starters who have struck out less than 15 percent this season have pitched to a 4.52 ERA.

In Anderson's most recent start on Wednesday, the Brewers took advantage of his strike-throwing ways, tagging the righty for 10 hits and four earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings, many of which came with two strikes -- a time when many pitchers would be looking to put hitters away by getting them to chase on pitches out of the zone.

"He's always kind of been in attack mode, which is good," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "But the longer he pitches up here, the more he'll realize that wasting a pitch now and again is probably a good idea."

Adam Lind's first-inning homer came on an 0-2 pitch. Khris Davis singled in an 0-2 count two batters later. An RBI single by Lind the following inning came with two strikes. The straw that broke the camel's back was an 0-2 single by the pitcher, Kyle Lohse, that ended Anderson's day.

On one hand, Anderson's ability to consistently throw strikes can only be viewed as encouraging. Fastball command is typically the number one issue that plagues young starters, and Anderson has passed that test with flying colors.

On the other hand, there's a time and a place to pound the strike zone, and Wednesday's start showed that perhaps Anderson could help himself out by expanding the zone to put batters away, something the rookie should learn with experience.

"He'll adjust and learn how to throw the ball out of the zone when he wants to," Callaway said. "But more times than not, I'm not totally concerned about an 0-2 hit. As long as he's getting 0-2, that's what's important."

August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.