PN 2009 Season Preview: Myers Must Deliver

To say 2009 is a defining season for Brett Myers is quite the understatement. The right-hander, drafted by the Phillies and seasoned to be an ace, has fallen somewhat short of those expectations, defined more by his personality and off-the-field moments than his pitching prowess.

For a time, that prowess was completely gone. Than it almost magically returned — all it took was a month and a couple minor-league starts. Seriously, that was it?

Why is Myers so mysterious?

“I knew it would come down to who would make the first mistake and unfortunately I made it.”

“You can write I stink if you want. I feel like that was my best pitch to get Cliff (Floyd) out right there. He didn’t swing at it and it got past Carlos (Ruiz). … Nine times out of 10 Carlos blocks that ball.”

“I can’t put together back-to-back good starts and I don’t know what the problem is. That’s frustrating. I don’t know. I made some good pitches they hit, I made some bad pitches they crushed. I don’t know.”

“I got no excuses. I flat-out stunk. It’s frustrating. I feel I’m not myself. I feel I lost that Rottweiler aggression. I’m pitching like a scared dog. I’m sorry the fans had to watch that. It was terrible.”

The weird thing? Most of those quotes are from before 2008.

Brett Myers has always played head games with himself. He’ll question his pitches, shake off his pitches, think about his pitches, then get frustrated, then rear back and fire. When he reared back and fired in 2008, he got crushed. Crushed hard.

Before his demotion, Myers barely threw his best pitch: the curveball. According to the Hardball Times, he threw the curve 13.3 percent of the time to right-handed hitters and 21.2 percent of the time to lefties. After his demotion? 23.3 percent of the time against righties and 32.5 percent of the time against lefties.

What did he stop throwing? His slider, which is barely a slider and moves more like a horizontally-tailed fastball. Clocking it at under 90 miles per hour, it’s a hittable meatball. When Myers was most successful he was primarily tossing the fastball and curveball, throwing in sporatic sliders, sinkers, changeups and cutters to mess with hitters.

Most of all, Myers positioned his fastball to the outside corner against right-handed hitters, while keeping the curve to the outisde zone against lefties. As we know, hitters’ timing is affected greatly when battling against outside pitches.

Interestingly, reports from spring training indicate Myers is throwing his cutter a lot. That pitch is practically his slider.

If Myers wants to be successful in 2009, he’ll figure out the effectiveness of his slider and cutter quickly. If they don’t work, he must banish them and stick to a fastball-curveball-changeup repertoire. If they are working, however, look the heck out.

Basically, Myers is capable of two possible lines (completely guessing) in 2009:

Best: 20-7 / 3.04 ERA / 232 K / 61 BB
Worst: 8-13 / 5.32 ERA / 119 K / 92 BB

The difference between those lines is his critical thinking. Ironically, that’s what gets him in a mess. Bottom line? How Myers pitches in 2009 will determine the remainder of his baseball career.



  1. Justin

    March 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Hopefully chooch does some of that critical thinking for him, by seeing the slider or lack there of maybe he’ll banish the pitch instead of waiting for myers to banish it. By now chooch has the respect of that rotation to be able to tell a pitcher to drop a pitch or do it himself.

  2. Jason B.

    March 30, 2009 at 11:44 am

    There is NO way Myers wins 20 games. He is a solid pitcher and has the stuff to be an ace. One thing he lacks? Ability to not let things rattle him. If he throws a curve ball that someone makes good contact on, he then proceeds to throw his fastball and his slider. Two things: 1. If he stops throwing his curve, his fastball resembles a batting practice toss and 2. His slider should be completly eliminated from his pitch selection. When his curve ball gets smacked, he stops throwing it. THAT IS A PROBLEM! When he is not effectivly using his curve, he is very ineffective. Myers is a very good pitcher, but he is no where near 20 wins good. If he wins 16 this year, he will have had a very good season for what he is… a number 2 pitcher at best. It’s unfortunate, but I think he is closer to 8-13 than he is 20-7.

  3. Tim Malcolm

    March 30, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I disagree. About the 20 wins. I think at his very best, he’s absolutely capable of 20 wins. I’d peg him around 13-14 wins though, which seems to be the norm for him.

  4. Georgie

    March 30, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Those quotes from Myers just prove what a headcase he really is, I don’t know if he can control his emotions for a whole season, let alone get 20 wins. I don’t think he’s going to listen to Ruiz that much as far as what he throws and when, more likely he will discuss it amongst himself with his other personalities.

  5. Mike59

    March 30, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    It seemed to me that last year Myers’ curveball started to get away from him early in the season and he resorted to pumping cutters in there that got crushed. When he has his curveball everything else works off of that. I agree that he should scrap the slider. I also agree that he is a huge key to the team’s success this year. It’s a cliche to say, but the fact that he is a FA should work in our favor. What do you think of his chances of staying with the team after this season?

  6. Justin

    March 30, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Nuke Laloosh encarnate, where’s Crash Davis when you need him?

  7. Jason B.

    March 30, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Tim… Yes, as I said, he has the stuff to be an ace. That stuff certainly makes him capable of winning 20 games. You said 13-14 wins… I actually have him at 16-17 wins this year. The only intangible he has going for him is that he is in a free agent year, but the man has to get his head right if he can even sniff 20 wins. I just think he is WAY too up and down to put together a solid enough season that requires a pitcher winning 20 games. This argument gets thrown out the window if he pitches like he did in the second half of last year, but I really can’t see him doing that throughout the entire season. Ever since his second year in the bigs, experts have said he has the stuff to be a 17-20 win guy, but the man’s head is never level enough to capitalize on the gifts that god gave him.

  8. John Fire

    March 30, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I’m with Tim on the 20 wins thing. Of course Myers is capable of winning 20 games. The same way Kyle Kendrick won 10 his rookie year and the same way any middling pitcher wins 20 games with a high ERA: the offense picks him up. If the offense gives Myers support – lets say 5.5 runs per game – he wins 20 games. If they forget how to hit when he pitches, he’ll struggle for 10. That’s why wins are not a great way to judge a pitcher. What I’d love for Myers is to see him keep his ERA under 3.50, WHIP under 1.25 and strike out more than 200. THAT would be a huge season, regardless of his won/loss record. If he does THAT, then he probably wins 20 games… but he could still just go 14-10 if he gets the kind of support Hamels got in 2008.

  9. Jason B.

    March 30, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I don’t know that it is far fetched to say that Brett can have a sub 4 era. Also, 200 K’s is a possibility. Again, you cannot exclude the mans mental stability when he is on the mound. I will be the first one to say that Myers has nasty stuff when he is on point. He is absolutly filthy. But how quickly we forget that meltdown on the mound when he showed up Charlie. WE forget that if not for a great play in the first inning against the Brewers, Myers could have given up more than a run. We forget that Myers had a call go against him in the WS and then proceeded to give up 4 more runs. JF, your argument isn’t that Myers can win 20 so much as the guys backing him up can get him to that point. You may be correct. I think on his own he is able to win 16 regardless of how on key the offense is behind him. He is capable of the numbers you and Tim listed, but if he doesn’t learn how to settle down when things do’t go his way, he will continue to be a middling pitcher.

  10. Jason B.

    March 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    i will concede the point that Myers did pitch well in th epostseason and for that reason I am optimistic about this season.

  11. ryan

    March 30, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    i see 14-16 wins for Myers. Which would be a very good year for him in my view. maybe 200+ k’s for him too. I think this will be his best year yet because he’s in better shape. i think his fat gut has been a major problem for him in recent years. he’s been outta shape pretty badly at times. almost david wells like sometimes. but this year he’ll be playing for his baseball future. he’ll be shooting for a long term contract and he knows he has alot to prove and this is his last chance to become a certified ace (or atleast to get paid like one)

  12. Richie Allen

    March 30, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    If the problem is just a matter of dumping the cutter or slider…that would be tremendous.But wouldnt the pitching staff coaches have noticed that way before us fans?They watch this and document pitches every game.
    Its got to be more than that… go back to see what pitches he threw after the minor league stint.He was dynamite the latter part of last year.

  13. Havoc

    March 30, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Cash is king. In a contract year, I think Myers wins 18 games *Knock on wood and such.*

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