Tripling the work­load

Oft-in­jured pitcher An­der­son is now healthy and is ex­pected to give Dodgers the innings they need in the ab­sence of McCarthy and Ryu

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Bill Shaikin bill.shaikin@la­times.com Twit­ter: @Bil­lShaikin

Dodgers are keep­ing an eye on An­der­son as he racks up the innings now that he’s healthy.

Dodgers left-han­der Brett An­der­son has pitched 122⁄3 innings in June. That would be about as or­di­nary as statis­tics can get, ex­cept for this: Over the pre­vi­ous five years, An­der­son pitched a to­tal of seven innings in June.

When the Dodgers signed the oft-in­jured An­der­son last win­ter, he was their fifth starter, and they might have been thrilled to get 100 innings from him. Now, af­ter sea­son-end­ing in­juries to Bran­don McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu, An­der­son is their third starter, and they might need close to 200 innings from him.

An­der­son pitched 53 innings last year, 54 the year be­fore and 60 in 2012.

Need­ing to triple that work­load, the Dodgers have not mixed in any ex­tra rest for An­der­son. They have no plans to skip him in the ro­ta­tion ev­ery now and then. They do not have a tar­get for how many innings he should pitch this year.

“Hope­fully, there is no cap,” An­der­son said. “I feel good right now. Hope­fully — knock on wood — I will con­tinue to feel this way.”

An­der­son has made all of his starts this sea­son. He has started on ex­tra rest more of­ten than on the regular four days of rest, but so have aces Clay­ton Ker­shaw and Zack Greinke.

“It’s a long sea­son, with hope­fully a long Oc­to­ber run,” said An­drew Fried­man, the Dodgers’ pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions. “That’s been how the sched­ule has laid out, and it’s been that way for all our guys.”

The Dodgers will not have that luxury over the next sev­eral weeks. They open a week­end se­ries Fri­day in San Diego, the first of 20 con­sec­u­tive games with­out a day off.

Dodgers pitch­ing coach Rick Hon­ey­cutt said the team would keep a wary eye on An­der­son.

“Right now, he’s been able to bounce back ex­tremely well and do ev­ery­thing he needs to do in be­tween starts,” Hon­ey­cutt said. “That’s what I’m watch­ing more than any­thing.

“We’re go­ing to have a hard stretch ’til the All-Star break. That’s ob­vi­ously a time that will dic­tate what we’ll be able to see. There will prob­a­bly be three starts in a row that will have to be on regular time.”

An­der­son, 27, has a record of 2-4 with a 3.57 earned-run av­er­age. He, Ker­shaw and Greinke each have started 12 games, but Ker­shaw ranks fifth in the Na­tional League in innings pitched and Greinke sixth.

An­der­son ranks 41st in innings (68), and 46th in pitches thrown — 1,042, com­pared to 1,191 for Greinke and 1,197 for Ker­shaw.

Ker­shaw leads the league in strike­outs, with 101. An­der­son has less than half as many, and he is thrilled with the lower pitch count.

“Hope­fully, I can keep get­ting ground balls and be­ing ef­fi­cient,” An­der­son said. “Hope­fully, the innings rack up quickly.”

Said Hon­ey­cutt: “There re­ally haven’t been, as of late, stress­ful innings for him. For the most part, it’s been pretty smooth. He’s been able to hold his de­liv­ery and hold his me­chan­ics to­gether. Those are things I look for, more than think­ing so far ahead and say­ing we’ve got to do this or that.”

An­der­son is on pace to throw 184 innings — which would top his ca­reer high of 175, set in 2009. He has been on the dis­abled list in ev­ery sea­son be­tween that one and this one. But he has not had an arm in­jury since re­turn­ing from Tommy John surgery in 2012.

The Dodgers treat him dif­fer­ently than a prospect build­ing to a 175-in­ning work­load, they say, be­cause An­der­son al­ready has thrown 175 innings, even if it was six years ago.

“It’s not like he’s never done it,” Hon­ey­cutt said. “It’s not the same as a younger guy go­ing through.”

Said An­der­son: “I’ve saved some bul­lets in the arm with other in­juries, to other parts of my body. Hope­fully, that con­ser­va­tion that I have had to have will play it­self out, and I will be fresh for the long haul this year.”

Fried­man said the Dodgers — the base­ball op­er­a­tions staff, the coach­ing staff, and the med­i­cal staff — pre­fer to rely on An­der­son to pro­vide regular and hon­est in­put about his arm strength rather than sad­dle him with an ar­bi­trary in­ning limit.

“We do it on guys in the mi­nor leagues and guys who are just com­ing up,” Fried­man said. “And, even with that, it’s not like we have tremen­dous pre­ci­sion. We tend to fol­low a pretty sim­i­lar sched­ule for a lot of those guys.

“But, once they get up here, we try to make it as spe­cific as pos­si­ble. The fact that he has done it — and ev­ery­one is unique and dif­fer­ent — re­quires us to be as spe­cific as we can be with him, and how he’s bounc­ing back, and where his strength lev­els are, to help pro­vide us a road map.”

Said An­der­son: “At this point, I’m just try­ing to go out there ev­ery five days and give us a chance. We’ll see what the num­ber is later on in the sea­son.”

Does he re­ally be­lieve he could throw 50 innings one year and 180 the next?

“Hope­fully,” he said. “Hope­fully, one year — this year — my big, durable body will fi­nally take hold.”

Ben Mar­got As­so­ci­ated Press

BRETT AN­DER­SON, pitch­ing against San Fran­cisco in May, would have to triple his work­load from pre­vi­ous three sea­sons to match what Dodgers may need.

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