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Scouting Dean Anna as a Pitcher

Saturday was not the best day for the Yankees. Ivan Nova was shaky throughout his first three starts. The Yankees really needed him to eat his share of innings in preparation for a Vidal Nuno-led bullpen day on Sunday. Instead, Nova got spanked. He lasted just four innings, allowed eight runs, four home runs, and partially tore his UCL. The latter item is the worst of an ugly list. Dellin Betances stretched out to 1.2 innings, burning him for Sunday. Matt Daley threw 1.1 innings and allowed six runs. Rather than burn another reliever, the Yankees turned to Dean Anna.

If you aren’t a close follower of Carson Cistulli’s love affairs, you might be asking yourself “Who is Dean Anna?” He is a 27-year-old former Padres farm hand who posted solid numbers in the minors despite a lack of exciting tools. He primarily splits his time between shortstop and second base. The injury to Mark Teixeira along with the frequent rest required by Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts have pressed Anna into pseudo-regular duty. He’s started five games in the last ten days.

The job of garbage inning pitcher often falls to backups – in this case Anna. Such outings inevitably produce excellent moments in sports history – the kind that should be recorded for posterity. Usually, GIFs are the best medium for such recordings. Shall we?

Let’s begin by examining Anna’s repertoire. Brooksbaseball calls his lone pitch a fastball. His velocity suggests that the term “fastball” is probably incorrectly applied. He ranged from about 56 to 74 mph with an average of 62.51 mph. So we’re actually looking at a four-seam slowball. What does that look like?

Anna Pitch 1

And with a whiff.

Anna Pitch 2

Ugly whiff by Loney there. Are we sure those are fastballs?

Anna 4 Seam Grip

We can plainly see a standard four-seam grip. Here’s another screenshot of his grip.

Anna 2 Seam Grip

I’m nearly positive that’s a two-seam grip. I can’t get a cleaner shot, but notice the MLB logo to the left of Anna’s fingers. An MLB baseball has two such logos (one says Rawlings) which bracket the area where a two-seamer is gripped. What I can say with unbending certainty – he isn’t throwing knuckleballs.

Now we know Anna threw more than one grip of fastball even though only one type was classified. Of course, anyone who knows anything about pitch movement can probably point out how hard it is to get movement on a “fastball” below 65 mph. One pitch did move quite a bit. Maybe he can replicate it in future outings.

Anna Horiz movement

All told, Anna threw 17 pitches, 14 of which were strikes. The pitches were scattered all over the place. I suspect Anna aimed at the center of the plate and hoped the pitch stayed in the strike zone. Some of his pitches while ahead in the count were decidedly hitter friendly.

Anna SZ plot

Given that he didn’t need to bother with pitch signals, he worked very quickly. I timed a random-ish selection of four pitches. The time it took from receiving the baseball to delivering it was about five seconds. Count with me. (Unfortunately, the Yankees broadcast is ADD, so the video options all sucked).

Anna time between pitches

What should Anna learn from this outing? Generally, pitchers who succeed with one pitch – like Sean Doolittle or Matt Thornton – have excellent velocity. Anna should either acquire excellent velocity of learn secondary pitches. Kidding aside, he did exactly what was asked of him – get through an inning as quickly and painlessly as possible. And he added a little extra entertainment to a game that had otherwise ceased being entertaining an hour earlier. Kudos.