FoxSports insider Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel will move Brett Myers into the bullpen, likely a set-up role, while inserting Jon Lieber into the starting rotation. [Link]
Manuel told Rosenthal he was comfortable using Myers in either the seventh or eighth innings and may also use him to close on days when Tom Gordon is unavailable. Meanwhile, 37-year-old righty Jon Lieber returns to his familiar role of starter after two failed experiments in the bullpen. In three starts, Myers is 0-2 with a 9.39 ERA. He has allowed 16 earned runs, with 19 strikeouts and 9 walks in 15 1-3 innings. Lieber is 0-0 with an 11.57 ERA, allowing two walks with no strikeouts in 2 1-3 innings in his two relief appearances this season.
Beerleaguer: Sensing urgency, an idea that has been quietly kicked around for some time comes to fruition sooner than expected. Manuel watched Myers' last two starts go up in smoke while the bullpen falls further into a state of disarray and decided it was time to make a command decision.
Myers has a reputation for letting mistakes get the best of him, and in a shortened role, perhaps the strategy is to have the gifted hurler stay focused and mix it up for one inning. Talent-wise, it's hard to argue that the hard-throwing, rubber-armed right-hander won't help the bullpen, and in an Inquirer interview during Spring Training, Myers seemed receptive to the idea of closing games. Meanwhile, the Phillies are hoping for the same type of performance Lieber delivered late last season when he returns to the starting five, instead of his first-half flop that made him unattractive to every team seeking starting pitching the last eight months.
This is a major shakeup, a fresh topic for debate and a situation that will surely become the new focus of discussion on this space. Is Myers worth more anchoring this particularly bad bullpen than he is in the rotation, where Lieber is the alternative? Creativity comes at a high cost - six, seven or eight good innings most turns, but at 3-9 and considering the early desperation, I reluctantly agree with the motivation behind this defining move, at least temporarily.
In other words, give it a try.
Game chat: Phillies at Washington, 7:05 EST. Eaton vs. Bergmann. Phillies win tonight. In the words of Howard Eskin: It's a stone-cold lock.