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Tyler Anderson’s knee issues hit a breaking point in 2019

The lefty made just five starts this year.

Welcome to the 2019 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2019. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.

★ ★ ★

No. 46, Tyler Anderson, -0.9 rWAR

Believe it or not, a long time ago, Tyler Anderson did pitch for the 2019 Rockies.

Anderson had a very abbreviated season this year, making just five starts and pitching 20 23 innings. He posted an 11.76 ERA in that stretch, walking 11 and striking out 23 while allowing eight home runs. His last outing was a 10-9 loss to the Diamondbacks on May 3 that droppped the Rockies to 15-18. He allowed six runs on seven hits in four innings of work that day.

The root of Anderson’s struggles in 2019 was a knee issue that has been nagging him since 2017. He pitched just 86 innings that season and went on the DL (as it was called then) multiple times. Anderson did make 32 starts and pitch 176 innings, but struggled performance-wise at times.

Anderson did not go straight on the IL after that game in early May this season, his first trip was to Triple-A Albuquerque, but he did not pitch for the Isotopes before undergoing the surgery on his knee that would end his season some two weeks later.

According to Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, the knee issues that ended Anderson’s season were neither minor nor common:

Anderson, 29, underwent surgery on June 11. The surgery was done to correct a chondral defect in Anderson’s left knee. A chondral defect refers to an area of damage to the cartilage that lines the end of the bones in the knee. The intricate, complicated surgery requires a lengthy recovery time.

In that same article, Rockies manager Bud Black notes that Anderson will likely not be back at the start of the 2020 season, but it should be a good thing for him long-term, certainly better than pitching through pain as he did in parts of the last three seasons.

If he can come back and be the pitcher he’s been when his knee is healthy, he could be a significant asset for the Rockies next year.