Pat Gillick said this would be Brett Myers’ breakout year, and so far the 25-year-old former first-round pick has emerged as the staff ace. But can it continue, and will he ever dig home cooking?
Myers was a main player in the Phillies late-May/early-June run in 2005, including a string of similar no-decisions. But after the all-star break, Myers turned on the cruise control and rarely made it past seven innings. The Phillies watched as his ERA fell from 3.20 before the break to 3.72, still a career-best, but not the stuff of the first two months.
This season, Myers has not allowed more than three runs in any appearance, and in his last four starts, has lasted seven innings or longer.
After yesterday’s beauty in Cincinnati, he’s 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA, seventh best in the National League.
Though it’s still early in his career, Myers has pitched long enough leave a trail of trends. Throwing out 2004, which was all over the map, Myers has generally started hot and cooled down. In addition, in all but one season, he’s pitched significantly better on the road. Last season, his home/away splits were 4.20/3.09. So far in ’06, they are 3.12/2.36.
For Myers to become an elite pitcher from start to finish, he needs to bring the same focused approach we saw yesterday along home. Home is where he is most likely to lose his cool, slow down and give up the big innings. All the other numbers indicate a pitcher starting to blossom into an ace, but overcoming his home "disadvantage" remains his biggest obstacle.
--- Phillies pitching has an 0.77 ERA in the last four games.
--- According to Hardball Times data, Myers leads the league in left-on base percentage (LOB%). LOB% is the percentage of baserunners allowed that didn't score a run. So in other words, 87 percent of Myers’ base-runners did not score, which is very good. Good pitchers who allow fewer baserunners will have higher LOB% rates.
--- Cory Lidle struck out a career-high 11 in his only game at Milwaukee last season. His total strikeouts at Citizen’s Bank Park were 51.
--- Lidle and Jon Lieber are among the league leaders in giving up line drives. Lidle ranks 8th (22.9%) and Lieber ranks 11th (22.5%).
--- Want more proof that wins and losses are bogus? Look no further than the Phillies, where Myers has the fewest wins of starters not named Cole, and Ryan Madson and Gavin Floyd are tied for the team lead with 4. Madson earned a win for his two-homer blown save in Friday’s game, which was enough to make me sick.