Dixon Anderson vs. Kevin Miller: Who should take the role of Cal’s Sunday starter?


In a bit of surprise move, senior Kevin Miller took the mound on Sunday against Oregon State to start the game. Typical Sunday starter, junior Dixon Anderson, did not pitch in the game or all weekend. Presumably, Miller will be taking the Pac-10 role from now on. But which is the best option?

Miller: 5-4, 2.31 ERA, 66.1 innings

Anderson: 4-2, 4.28 ERA, 54.2 innings

From a purely statistical viewpoint, Miller is the key choice. But looking at just ERA, wins, and innings is a bit of a flawed viewpoint. Digging deeper finds this:

Miller (schedule adjusted): 1.96 ERA, 3.16 FIP

Anderson (schedule adjusted): 4.12 ERA, 4.48 FIP

FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is a stat that takes in account the 3 things pitchers have complete control over: strikeouts, walks, and home runs and puts that into an ERA number. Miller has been lucky, as has Anderson, but even when you take account luck and schedule, Miller’s been the better pitcher.

The only thing Anderson has on Miller is stuff. Miller relies a lot on a deceptive fastball that’s only around 91-92; Anderson has MLB stuff that leads to him getting drafted highly despite only decent college results. He’s thrown harder, but it seems that at least early in the year he was sitting in the lower 90s. The fastball has plus movement, and he mixes in a splitter, a slider and a curve. If there’s an argument for Anderson, it’s the fact he’s got ace stuff.

The verdict: For now, the Pac-10 starts have to go to Miller. Keep Anderson ready for the postseason with the mid week starts against UC Davis and Pacific, and continue to monitor the situation. Definitely keep Anderson in the conversation, but Miller is the better choice for the games against tough foes such as UCLA and Stanford.