This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by visiting our contact page.
Amongst all the hubbub surrounding the Cliff Lee acquisition, the Phils find themselves sitting on a potential treasure trove of arms to employ for the stretch run to the pennant (it used to be called “pennant”, I’m not sure what its called now). While J.P. Ricciardi cleans out his desk Saturday morning, victim of what l call a “Ruben Sandwich,” Charlie Manuel will be sitting in a locker room somewhere trying to think of a way to fit six, soon to be seven, and not long after that, eight (!) pitchers into his starting rotation. That eighth pitcher will almost assuredly be Brett Myers, showing up late to the party, but there nevertheless.
If things go as The Dipsy predicts (in honor of Ricky Henderson’s induction into the Hall of Fame, I am referring to myself in the third person), Happ will go to the bullpen (a shame), Lopez will be traded for a minimal return and Martinez and Moyer will be your No. 4 and 5 starters, not necessarily in that order. Easy enough, I guess, until Myers is done his rehab stints and shows up at Citizens Bank Park pronouncing himself cured and ready to pitch. And that talented right arm has to go someplace.
In 2008, Myers was one of the best starters in baseball after he came back from his electroshock therapy in Reading. He went long into games, moved his fastball in the zone, and his curveball bit and didn’t hang. In short, he was great, and the Phils would not have reached the World Series without him. The season prior, Myers was unexpectedly thrust into the role of closer and thrived with 21 saves while averaging more than 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. The guy has shown he can close.
What happens when Myers returns will hinge on what happens with Martinez. If Martinez can’t hack it, Myers slides into his spot and Martinez goes to the pen. If Martinez is pitching reasonably well, he will serve as the righty starter to balance out the rotation, and Myers will pitch in relief. Then it becomes interesting. I would love to see the “Bridge to Lidge” include Myers flashing his old form and effectively holding things down anywhere from the sixth to eighth innings, with the switch over to J.C. Romero as needed, then right into Ryan Madson. Then Lidge in the 9th.
While all of this this sounds great In theory, it can’t work unless Lidge has it together. As of now he does not. And he has a history a “crisises in confidence.” If September comes with Myers pitching well and Lidge struggling, and we all hope that won’t happen, I would expect Manuel to dispense with the “I’ll stick with my horse” or “I’ll dance with girl that brung me” crap and make the switch to Myers. Playoff baseball is no place to wait for a guy to find his stuff. Myers runs to pressure. And he needs a contract next year. I think he’ll be primed. We want Brett Myers to pitch well. We all want Brad Lidge to pitch well. But most of all, we want the best guy on the mound to close games.