Brett Myers will make a minor league start for Class-A Clearwater Friday, then join the team in Miami in pitch July 23 in New York, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. We also discuss closer Brad Lidge.
Back to business. Last night, I exercised my right to miss the entire All-Star game. I didn't catch a second of it, not even the highlights. Reason being: No good can come from watching it. The National League would likely lose. It could go extra innings. Brad Lidge could be needlessly taxed, which would only stress me out. Blam-o. For a job well done this season, Lidge was rewarded with a four hour, 50 minute marathon in which he warmed up six separate times and took the loss in the 15th.
Before we get to Myers, let’s stay on Lidge for a moment. Did everyone see yesterday’s article on how Lidge was tipping his pitches last season? Excellent article, on many fronts. Although I’m skeptical his worst moments in Houston can be blamed on tipping pitches, David Murphy, who wrote the piece, gets to the heart of it with this well-placed line: “You are never quite as bad as people say you are. And, at the same time, you are never quite as good.”
Let it serve warning. He’s been on top. He's also hit rock bottom. That's what a reliever does. Only the elite are immune. Although he’s still perfect in save opportunities, his command is beginning to fail him a little. Only a fool would expect perfection.
As for tipping, the story goes that when he held his glove high at the start of his delivery, he was throwing a fastball. When he kept the glove low, a slider was on the way. Tipping pitches is one of at least three theories surrounding his prior woes, the others are an ineffective cut fastball he would eventually scrap at the request of catcher Brad Ausmus, plus, the always popular "change of scenery."
Reading some of the comments on Baseball Musings, a great, all-purpose site, they bring up the idea that "tipping pitches" is a trick to give struggling pitchers a flaw to focus on rather than overthink their mechanics. They cite Jim Palmer as the source. Plus, isn’t it a little fishy that a catcher as experienced as Ausmus wouldn’t have picked up on this?
Something to ponder as we look ahead to the second half, which will reportedly include Myers. Say what you want about Myers, but he's been a pretty decent second-half pitcher, as in, an effective pitcher in big games, as both a starter and closer. It sounds like the Phils are convinced the demotion was the only way Myers could get back on track. I'm optimistic they will be proven right. The bottom line is they need his arm for the stretch run, especially now that Adam Eaton has gone off the rails. Eaton's not cut out for the stretch run. He spent the 2007 pennant race on the phony DL. It's a perfect opportunity to turn J.A. Happ loose and demote Eaton to the bullpen. Time to find out if Eaton can work some mop-up innings; maybe it will light a spark. Between Myers ability, Happ's status and Eaton pitching in some capacity, they have flexibility.