MARCH 26: The Rays have placed Anderson on the 60-day injured list and added righty Andrew Kittredge to their 40-man roster, per a team announcement. Kittredge had an opt-out for the end of camp in the minor league deal he signed with the Rays, but he’ll stay put. He contributed 111 1/3 innings of 4.93 ERA/3.90 SIERA pitching with the Rays from 2017-20.
MARCH 25: The Rays’ bullpen received terrible news Thursday: Right-hander Nick Anderson suffered a partial tear of his elbow ligament and will likely be out until past the All-Star break, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Surgery has not been recommended at this point.
Considering how much the reigning American League champion Rays lean on their bullpen, the loss of Anderson for at least a few months is an especially troubling development. Anderson has been absolutely lights-out dating back to his 2019 debut with Miami, which traded him to Tampa Bay before that season’s deadline.
Now 30 years old, the hard-throwing Anderson was a 32nd-round pick of the Brewers in 2012 who spent time in independent ball before he broke out in the bigs. Anderson owns a stellar 2.77 ERA/2.14 SIERA with a 42.2 percent strikeout rate and a 6.5 percent walk rate across 81 1/3 innings. While Anderson did miss time last year with forearm issues, he dominated over 16 1/3 frames with a measly 0.55 ERA and similarly jaw-dropping strikeout and walk percentages of 44.8 and 5.2, respectively. He wasn’t nearly as successful in the playoffs, in which he surrendered nine earned runs on 16 hits and totaled nine strikeouts against four walks in 14 2/3 innings.
Anderson led the Rays with six saves during the regular season in 2020, but they’ll have to lean on other end-of-game options until at least sometime in the summer. Diego Castillo, Pete Fairbanks, Chaz Roe and Ryan Thompson are among possible solutions for the Rays, whose bullpen – thanks in no small part to Anderson – ranked third in the majors in ERA a year ago.