DENVER -- If things go well for Brett Anderson this evening, he will be the winning pitcher in the game that guarantees the Los Angeles Dodgers will play beyond Oct. 3. A win tonight would guarantee the Dodgers at least a tie in the NL West.
If Anderson has his way, he'll have plenty more meaningful starts left for the Dodgers, even beyond a probable Game 3 start in the playoffs. He said he would welcome the opportunity to return in 2016.
"It's been a good fit," Anderson said a few days ago. "It fits my personality here. With [Clayton] Kershaw the top guy, I can just go about my business and kind of pitch in the shadows. It's been gratifying to stay healthy and help win with these guys."
The Dodgers have a mutual interest in bringing Anderson back, particularly since they will have as many as three openings in their starting rotation due to the likelihood that Zack Greinke opts out of his contract and long-term injuries to Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy. However, a provision in the collective bargaining agreement could make that difficult. Anderson, who has managed to stay healthy for the first time since his rookie season, is a candidate for a qualifying offer.
Thus far, no player has ever accepted a qualifying offer, though that could change since it goes up to $15.3 million for 2016. Though there is a bumper crop of starting pitchers available next free agent period, Anderson will be an appealing target for several teams. At 27, he's younger than most of the other free agents, he's left-handed and his ground ball rate (65.9 percent) is the best in the major leagues, which will appeal to sabermetric front offices.
The Dodgers were uncertain what they would be getting when they signed Anderson to a one-year, $10 million contract filled with incentives, but he has proven surprisingly durable. Tonight's is his 30th start, the first time he has made that many since 2009.
"It's been huge. I didn't expect to lose Ryu and McCarthy for the whole year," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "I think the consistency he's given us along with Clayton and Zack [Greinke] has been huge. If you don't have that, then you're scrambling for another spot. It would have been tough if somebody didn't step forward."