His fragility is an old joke at this point, but like a sketch on Saturday Night Live, tell the joke enough times and it becomes funny again. Brett Anderson deserves credit for the 180 innings that he pitched as recently as 2015, but that was the only campaign that saw more than 45 frames from the southpaw since 2011, and to count on anything more than a handful of starts constitutes naive optimism at this point. Even when he is on the mound, the lack of strikeouts often leave Anderson vulnerable to the whimsy of balls in play, denting his fantasy value by making him at best a three-category pitcher but one with the downside to adversely impact ratios. There is little incentive to drafting the lefty at this point even after joining the reigning world-champion Cubs, unless playing in a league that has a half-dozen DL spots.
Anderson will start the year in the rotation and pitch the fourth game of the year, April 7 in Milwaukee, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. Anderson was competing for the fifth spot this spring, but he will pitch fourth so he and fellow lefty Jon Lester, the team's No. 1 starter, don't go back-to-back. The decision means Mike Montgomery will start the year in the bullpen.
Barring a setback in the next two weeks, Anderson is expected to begin the season as the Cubs' No. 5 starter, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Anderson hasn't been great this spring, but he still figures to begin the year in the rotation, which would push Mike Montgomery into a long-relief/spot-starter role. The decision is perhaps by default, as Anderson does not have experience as a reliever, while Montgomery excelled in a relief role last season, including getting the save in Game 7 of the World Series. Also, Cubs manager Joe Maddon has said he may take a "hybrid" approach that occasionally uses a sixth starter.
Anderson gave up three runs on three hits while striking out three and walking one in a long relief appearance against the Royals on Sunday. The Cubs have used Anderson and Mike Montgomery on the same day in each of their last three appearances, while Anderson was deployed as the starter March 14 and Montgomery took the ball to begin Sunday's game. While manager Joe Maddon has suggested that Anderson may share the No. 5 starter job with Montgomery to begin the season, Eddie Butler has impressed this spring and may be ready to take over the role if the tandem plan fails due to ineffectiveness or injury. Anderson has a 7.15 ERA and 1.76 WHIP though 11.1 innings this spring, and he's surrendered at least two runs in each of his last four appearances.
Manager Joe Maddon said that Anderson could share the fifth spot in the rotation with Mike Montgomery, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. It's somewhat surprising news, considering the two left-handers have been competing for the final rotation spot throughout camp. Maddon says he's considering the move because neither pitcher has reached the 200 inning plateau in a season yet. Anderson, in particular, missed a majority of last season with wrist and finger injuries and has been inconsistent throughout his career as a starter. It's a move that would obviously decrease his fantasy value, so the situation is worth monitoring.
Anderson will start Monday's spring training game against the White Sox, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Anderson's health has often prevented him from cashing in on his once elite talent. He's set to compete with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery, among others, for the No. 5 rotation spot and could be of fantasy service in mixed leagues if he can hold it sometime this season.