Everyone likes origin stories. Stories like how James Howlett became Wolverine or how Peter Parker morphed intoinform Spiderman. They give us context into the character and informs of what their motivation is to be the hero that they have become. The Texas Rangers on Tuesday night saw the birth of a bullpen hero and his name is Grant Anderson.
Anderson came into the game on Tuesday night and had a major-league debut that will be talked about by fans for years to come. He faced nine Detroit Tigers and struck out seven, and gave up just one hit. He picked up his first win as the Rangers held on to win 10-6. I want to discuss how Anderson went from unheralded prospect to potentially being the bullpen hero for this Texas Rangers team.
Texas Rangers' Grant Anderson and his path to the Majors
Grant Anderson was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 21st round in 2018. He immediately told the Beaumont Interprise that he would be giving up his senior season to turn pro. He was not with Seattle long though. Before Opening Day in 2019 he was traded to the Rangers for Connor Sadzeck. The Mariners were looking to compete in 2019 and needed a hard thrower for their bullpen and were willing to give Sadzeck a shot even though he did not make the Rangers roster out of camp.
Anderson still faced a long journey to get to the majors. He had only pitched a half of a professional season prior to being traded. He spent all of 2019 at Low-A Hickory and had a good season for the Crawdads. He was 7-4, with eight saves, and a 3.22 ERA. He also had 50 strikeouts to 24 walks. Then, he had to sit out the 2020 season due to the pandemic and the cancellation of the minor league season. He came back in 2021 and was sent back to now High-A Hickory. He had a 4.61 ERA in 15 games, but his other numbers showed he was pitching better than what his ERA showed. He increased his strikeouts per 9 to 11.5 and had 35 strikeouts overall to 14 walks.
The Rangers midway through the 2021 season decided to challenge him by sending him to Double-A Frisco. He would become very familiar with the city of Frisco and the fans. He ended 2021 in Frisco and started 2022 in Frisco. In 2022 he was stellar for the Roughriders. He was 5-0, with a 2.80 ERA. He strikeouts per nine increased once again in 2022 to 12.3. In 54 innings with Frisco he had 75 strikeouts to 16 walks. He really put himself on the map in 2022. He was not noticed by those that do prospect rankings, but the Rangers knew who he was and what skills he possessed.
He started to get attention in spring training. Levi Weaver of The Athletic had Anderson on his list of under-the-radar prospects who could make their debut. Jamey Newberg also of The Athletic ranked Anderson number 58 on his list of prospects. Both had Anderson as a candidate for the bullpen in 2023. After throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings in his first appearance with Round Rock he was sent down to Frisco for the next couple of weeks, before being promoted once again to Triple-A Round Rock. He set himself apart in May with a 26-6 strikeout to walk ratio. That was in just 14 2/3 innings. In these 11 appearances his strikeouts per nine increased once again to 16.
The one thing Anderson has shown at every level is an ability to strike batters out. The Rangers bullpen this season has not had that elite swing and miss pitcher. Jonathan Hernandez has great stuff, but it generates more groundballs than strikeouts. Anderson showed last night that he can play anywhere in and around the zone and gets swings and misses.
The Role Grant Anderson will play in the Texas Rangers' Bullpen
He made quite the debut, now the question becomes how will Bochy utilize Anderson? In the minors Anderson has primarily been used to pitch two innings every third or fourth day. Last night we saw Bochy pitch him from the end of the fifth into the eighth inning. Length from the starters has not been an issue, it has been getting from the starter to the closer.
Anderson could serve in that bridge role. On days he is available he pitches the sixth or seventh inning or seventh and eighth inning. If he does his job then the ball is handed from him to Will Smith in those games. Serving in that role will lessen the pressure on Josh Sborz, Jonathan Hernandez, and Jose Leclerc to always be the bridge rele
Anderson had a long journey to get to this point. As a 21st round pick he was never given preferential treatment or treated as a top prospect. He was traded not long after being drafted. He had to earn everything he got. He made several minor league stops and also put in time in winter ball. He put in the work, continued to develop, and is now reaping the rewards.
One appearance does not make a career, but Anderson throughout his career has just continued to move up. The 25-year old did not look overwhelmed by the moment in his debut on Tuesday night. The Rangers need help in the bullpen and Anderson came to the rescue. Going forward we will see if this is just a one-hit wonder or the start of a cinematic universe revolving around Grant Anderson.