Brett Myers waited until the sixth month of his fifth season to morph into the ace pitcher many believe he can become. The 26-year-old right-hander went the distance and tied a career-high with 12 strikeouts in a decisive 6-2 victory over the Cubs.
Meanwhile, add the Diamondbacks to the list of teams receiving fruit baskets compliments of the Phillies. The D-Backs defeated San Diego, while the Pirates (fruit basket en route) battered the Dodgers for the second straight night. The Phils are now tied atop the National League Wild Card heap with Los Angeles with 10 games left to play.
Thus, the old driftwood has returned. "It’s a long season." Indeed, this one has felt like eternity. What the hell is this driftwood made from anyhow?
Only a few chapters ago, the starting pitching was in shambles. Aside from Myers, Cory Lidle's standard six innings, three runs felt pretty cozy back then. Now, some are calling this the most complete rotation in the National League playoff race.
Just days after Cole Hamels came within eight outs of a no-hitter, and the night after 43-year-old Jamie Moyer tossed his second one-run game in three tries, Myers bulldozed the Cubs over nine innings. Three different styles, three sterling results.
To the naked eye, the ex-boxer leveled his target with three right-hand looks: hard, harder and hardest. But there was more to it. The post-fight press conference came from the man behind the plate. Mike Lieberthal told the Inquirer that Myers added a splitter to his growing repertoire. This is like casually slipping the Gatling gun into 19th Century warfare. This is a pitch Myers only starting tinkering with two weeks ago in the bullpen. It’s a frightening reminder how young Myers is. At 26, he’s their best pure power pitcher, learning even more fastball variations to compliment an organization-best curveball. Now on a lark, he’s working on yet another out pitch, and get this, already getting outs with it. This is like discovering Mt. Everest out behind the Catskills.
Myers and Hamels represent perhaps the best September one-two punch in the NL, an amazing feat all things considered. Hamels is a buck rookie who still doesn’t have the starts necessary to qualify for statistical recognition. The other is still tinkering with two pitches, a splitter and a more established changeup. This month, Myers is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Hamels is 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. They have combined to strike out 53 batters in seven games.
These are the types of performances the Phillies will need in October. I can’t believe I just wrote that.