These 3 AL West Pitchers Can Rebound in 2024

Will these veterans bounce back after a rough 2023 season?

The AL West proved once again to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball last year, with three teams making the playoffs and the Rangers winning the World Series. This was mostly due to elite hitting, as four out of five teams finished with a team OPS+ greater than or equal to 100. Pitching was dragged down by the Athletics, who had a team ERA+ of 75, and teams like the Astros and Mariners flexed their impressive rotations on the way to the playoffs.

Still, many teams saw experienced pitchers regress in 2023. Despite career-best performances in 2022, pitchers such as Cristian JavierTyler Anderson, and Andrew Heaney saw dips in performance after seeing a few changes in their game.

Whether due to a change of scenery or just adjustments to find continued success, the changes made seemed to influence their performance negatively. By looking at the 2022 season to see what they did right, and looking at 2023 to see what went wrong, I believe these pitchers can make changes in 2024 and get back to posting great numbers.

Cristian Javier

In 2022, Cristian Javier proved himself to be one of the top young pitchers in MLB, posting a 2.54 ERA and 3.16 FIP over 148.2 innings. Starting the year in the bullpen, Javier quickly forced himself into the rotation and was hugely valuable to the Astros, who obtained their 2nd World Series title in the past seven years. Javier even led the Astros to a combined no-hitter in Game 4 of the World Series.

In 2023, Javier regressed to a 4.56 ERA and 4.58 FIP, sticking in the rotation while posting league-average numbers.

Javier thrived through elite strikeout numbers and (mostly) limiting home runs in 2022, preventing his crazy high fly-ball% from causing significant damage. In 2023, Javier’s strikeouts dropped, and an increase in Barrel% resulted in much more damage from these fly balls.

Javier was also excellent at preventing hits in 2022, which regressed in 2023. With more runners reaching base and fewer swings and misses, extra-base hits became far more damaging for Javier.

Part of this can also be attributed to worse batted ball luck. Javier saw a BABIP increase from .229 in 2022 to .273 in 2023; while less valuable for use in pitchers, this BABIP jump as a fly-ball pitcher could suggest some poor luck on fly balls allowed.

Another part can be how his stuff changed in 2023.

Data via Baseball Savant (dotted circle = league average)

With a four-seamer being his primary pitch, Javier gained popularity in 2022 for its “invisi-ball” nickname, as its high vertical break and unique release point generated spectacular results.

The fastball, however, lost a tick of velocity in 2023 and saw its average PLV drop from an elite 5.29 in 2022 to a closer to league average 5.10 in 2023. Batters went from slugging .326 off the pitch in 2022 to .455 in 2023.

His slider is also an excellent pitch, as it continued generating elite results in 2023. His changeup and curveball, while infrequently used, are solid offerings that get average results.

In the future, Javier should benefit from more diversity in his pitch usage. While solid, his fastball is not quite elite and would benefit from being thrown less often.

As seen in his first few starts of 2024, Javier’s changeup is a solid pitch, and an uptick in usage has shown to get better batted-ball results. A full season of success with this different type of approach can certainly instill more confidence in Astros fans for Javier’s future in the rotation.

Andrew Heaney

One of the greatest questions on Twitter was seemingly answered in 2022, as Heaney posted a 3.10 ERA and 3.75 FIP with the Dodgers over 72.2 innings. Heaney struck out a career-best 35.5% of batters faced while generating elite numbers in Chase% and Whiff%. Unfortunately, Heaney regressed in 2023 with the Rangers, generating a 4.15 ERA and 4.66 FIP while his strikeouts dropped significantly.

After moving to the bullpen late in the season, Heaney is repositioned in the Texas rotation for 2024 as they look for a repeat World Series title. By returning to Dodgers form with the Rangers, Heaney can be a big factor in getting to this point.

The Dodgers possess one of the best pitching coaches in the major leagues in Mark Prior, who has a long history of getting the best out of pitchers. This was no exception for Heaney, who posted career-best numbers with the Dodgers in 2022.

Once joining the Rangers, who are not as well known for their pitching, Heaney returned to his career norms.

Primarily, Heaney’s changes were in his pitches themselves.

Data via Baseball Savant (dotted circle = league average)

Heaney has a unique four-seam fastball, generating insane horizontal break at a below-average velocity. His four-seamer went from averaging an elite 5.58 PLV in 2022 to an above-average 5.19 in 2023. While still a solid pitch, it lost a bit of vertical break and saw a bit more horizontal. In addition, it was thrown in slightly worse locations, resulting in fewer whiffs and called strikes.

Heaney’s slider got better in 2023, according to PLV, as it jumped from a decent 4.96 average PLV in 2022 to an above-average 5.24 in 2023. Still, its performance worsened and got far fewer whiffs than in 2022.

Heaney’s changeup was a solid offering and was thrown much more often in ’23 than in ’22. Despite having elite horizontal break, its average PLV is quite low, and had poor results when put in play.

The Dodgers simply know what they are doing. While Heaney is a weird pitcher, the Dodgers were able to get excellent value out of Heaney’s stuff. Still, Heaney may have gotten quite lucky with the Dodgers. His barrel% and hard-hit% were some of the worst in the league, and his groundball% was quite low. Thus, his home-runs-per-nine were at 1.7 in 2022, yet his ERA and FIP were still quite good.

Heaney attacked the zone more frequently with the Dodgers. Since his walks were low, and hits were infrequent, home runs didn’t do as much damage as they could have. Because of this, Heaney was able to stay productive and generate elite whiffs while making the hitters try to hit home runs.

In the future, the best thing Heaney can do is look at what the Dodgers tried to do with him. Home runs are damaging, but with fewer hitters reaching base altogether, his earned runs can stay manageable.

Tyler Anderson

Tyler Anderson had his best season yet in 2022 with the Dodgers. At age 32, Anderson made his first All-Star team while posting a 2.57 ERA and 3.31 FIP, landing himself a three-year, $39 million deal with the Angels.

In his first year with the Angels, Anderson posted an abysmal 5.43 ERA and 4.92 ERA, the worst full-season ERA and FIP of his career despite spending his first four MLB seasons in Coors Field with the Rockies.

Like Heaney, Anderson thrived with the Dodgers’ coaching staff and used this, along with his unique pitch arsenal, to get the best out of his stuff.

The Angels, infamous for their weaker pitching development, made some changes to Anderson’s game that were followed with worse results.

Instead of looking at the many parts of Anderson’s stat line that got worse, looking at Anderson’s pitches specifically can provide more clarification to what changed, got better, and got worse from his 2022 season with the Dodgers.

Data via Baseball Savant (dotted circle = league average)

I’ll be looking at his three most-used pitches in his four-seamer, changeup, and cutter. While Anderson uses four other pitches occasionally, the changes in his primary trio had the biggest effect on his outcomes.


Anderson’s four-seam was thrown in the strike zone less frequently than in 2022, yet had a drastic uptick in mistake%. This led to hitters slugging .566 on the pitch in 2023, up from .428 the year prior.

The pitch also saw a change in shape, as it lost horizontal break in favor of more IVB. This is a common theme with Angels pitchers, and caused the pitch’s average PLV to drop from 5.06 to 4.69.

Since his four-seam lacks velocity, an increase in induced vertical break should be good. Instead, it went from having barely any “rise” to having a mediocre amount at 90 mph, thus losing its unique shape.

It was also used in two-strike counts much more frequently than in 2022.

Since Anderson’s four-seamer has never had outlier qualities in shape or velocity, it thrived through its unique movement, along with the rest of his arsenal.

A change to a more generic four-seam shape caused many more hard-hit balls, and turned his four-seam into an average offering to a well-below-average one. A switch back to its previous shape should help prevent some elevated hard contact in the future.


Anderson’s changeup has long been his best pitch and continued to be in 2023.

While still having solid peripherals, his changeup was hit in the air far too often, leading to an increase in SLG from .262 in ’22 to .381 in ’23.

Another increase in induced vertical break took place with the pitch, likely attributing to this slugging uptick. While average exit velocities stayed similar, the higher frequencies of balls in the air naturally led to more extra-base hits.

PLV did not agree with this change, dropping from 5.14 to 4.95 on average.

Anderson’s changeup was still a solid offering, so it wouldn’t need many changes going into 2024. Improvements to his other pitches would likely improve the results of the changeup as well.


Anderson’s cutter saw another drop in PLV, going from 5.23 in 2022 to 4.95 in 2023. Still, it yielded solid results.

The cutter was thrown less in two-strike counts than before, while also being placed out of the zone more frequently in those situations. This led to more chases out of the zone in those counts, which made the cutter into an even better third offering.

Overall, Anderson’s pitches rely on each other to be effective. When one pitch gets worse, the rest do, so a focus on rebuilding the excellent three-pitch mix that led him to see so much success in 2022 should be priority #1.


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