Baseball Prospectus describes Brett Myers’ career as “sporadic bouts of brilliance coupled with bizarre struggles.” For Phillies fans, there’s nothing bizarre about it. When he’s bad, it's all in his head.
Although medical exams revealed no structural damage to his pitching elbow, it’s looking less likely that Cole Hamels will be set for the start of the season, which means Brett Myers, subject of today's morning forum, could be the opening day starter again. I was asked recently which player was mostly likely to disappoint this season, and my response was Myers. That doesn't jive with what baseball fans have come to expect from a contract year, but ask yourself this: Doesn't Brett Myers always figure out a way to fall short of expectations?
Frustration over being yanked back into the rotation was his excuse for killing the team for three-and-a-half months and pitching himself into an embarrassing minor league demotion. It happened despite signing one of the most lucrative deals on the team to become, at worst, a No. 2 starter, and at best, staff ace. The mental side tells most of the story, but not all of it. The other part was his well documented dip in velocity, in addition to all the other stuff that went haywire both stuff-wise and control-wise. Part of it was physical; he was out of shape. But by and large, it was mental. It had to be; how else can one explain July 29 through Sept. 14, the months following his demotion, when he basically rattled off 10 dazzling starts in a row?
What jumped out most over those first miserable months of '08 was the lack of consistency. He had no plan. Whether it was Myers masquerading as a starter using a closer's mentality, where it’s enough to load up and fire, he wasn’t working over batters or establishing his pitches the way he needed to in the rotation. When he returned from exile, he was dominant.
Which Myers should we expect in ’09? To me, he is the toughest nut to crack on the entire roster in terms of projections.
Game chat: The Phils host the Blue Jays today. J.A. Happ makes another pitch to win a spot in the starting rotation. We’ll keep it here for that.