Reliever Nick Anderson is overlooked addition to KC Royals bullpen

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KC Royals knew the team needed a bullpen overhaul this offseason. How said changes would look was the mystery. The response to Kansas City trading for righty Nick Anderson this past November was underwhelming and left something to be desired. But, there is a greater story that says Anderson could be an underrated addition to the pitching staff.

Anderson's production is extremely underrated and Royals fans need to look at the bigger picture. Since making his big-league debut in 2019, Anderson ranks 5th among qualified pitchers in K/BB ratio, 7th in K%, and tied for 8th in WHIP. Those are elite standings and exactly what Kansas City needs in its bullpen.

Nick Anderson is a great fit with the KC Royals

Anderson's past relationship with Royals manager Matt Quatraro and bench coach Paul Hoover brings some familiarity to the bullpen plans. Anderson's best years came with the Tampa Bay Rays, where he played from 2019-2021. He earned First Team All-MLB honors for his 2020 performance, one of two relievers to do so that year.

Anderson's pitch arsenal relies on a good fastball and curveball, with the occasional pitch registering differently. His fastball velocity is still returning to pre-surgery form, but the movement remains solid. How does FanGraphs think Anderson's first year in Kansas City will go?

How FanGraphs projects he will perform for KC Royals

FanGraphs (Depth Charts) projects Anderson will appear in 58 games and pitch 58 innings, which would be his most since 2019. They are not bullish on Anderson's strikeout stuff returning, predicting a 21.2% strikeout rate, with a 4.31 ERA and 4.28 FIP.

How Nick Anderson will actually perform

Anderson's value in 2024 relies on how healthy he is. Between the elbow issues affecting 2021 and 2022 and a right shoulder strain limiting him to 35 games last season, concerns about his health are valid. The Minnesota native should have the latitude to slowly work back into a bigger bullpen role in Kansas City.

I predict he will appear in at least 40 games, accounting for a lighter workload and the probable minor injury. But, the real kicker is that the Royals will win more often than not if Anderson makes an appearance. That was the case for the Atlanta Braves last season, so I'm throwing correlation and causation to the wind.

Overall, Anderson will likely be a low-cost option for the Royals while they wait for Will Klein, Steven Cruz, or another reliever to force their way to the big leagues. Kansas City gives him a big home field, limiting any damage done with fly balls, and a good fielding unit as well. It is hard to not be bullish on Anderson's debut season with the Royals. He will certainly exceed FanGraphs' expectations for him.

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