On a sticky June evening in the gigantic lands of Arlington, Texas, Brett Myers hit a wall larger than anyone could have imagined. The once-celebrated right-handed starter had given up five runs in two innings. Manager Charlie Manuel had seen more than enough, and sauntered out of the dugout to rid the ballpark of this issue. Myers was done. His ERA at 5.84. His major league career on life support.
I wrote this in that game recap:
Still, the blame is on Myers, who is all but finished. Carrying a 5.84 ERA, Myers needs to sit his next start. No longer is he an option to help this team win – either bring up a minor leaguer or give Kris Benson the OK to start. Myers needs to sit out, figure out what is wrong with him, then come back at some point and deliver. There’s not much faith in him to be even a league-average starter. His downfall is the sad story of the year, and it kept the Phils from winning what looked to be an easy one against Texas. Instead the Phils are back in a hole, needing a huge start from Cole Hamels to rectify the damage.
And here we are, six starts later, and Myers’ ERA stands at 4.71. And it’s decreasing. His confidence brimming. His fire burning. His pitches moving. His spirit soaring. Somehow, someway, Myers has completely turned around his 2008 season, and possibly, his major league career.
We have to keep in perspective that Myers tossed a complete-game shutout against the Nationals, not your best offensive ballclub by any means. But he threw 119 pitches, 82 for strikes. He struck out nine. He wasn’t fazed by baserunners. He was on point, just as he has been since returning from the minors.
The renaissance first seemed like a prayer. His 5 IP, 3 ER start against the Mets was riddled with walks, but we proceeded with cautious hope. Then he slew the Nationals in just 88 pitches. His third start, against Saint Louis, was a good indicator of his progress – he was better than the Myers we’d seen all season, but not exactly dominant. Then he exploded for not getting the green light against the Pirates, despite pitching very well and being taken out at about the right time. He responded with a pretty good start against the hot-hitting Dodgers. With each start we grew more confident in Myers, and he grew more confident in his stuff – mainly, his fastball (clocking in over 90 mph again and finding all areas of the plate). The pitch counts grew, and against Los Angeles, he threw 105 pitches.
We can’t think Myers will be as fantastic as he was against the Nationals Wednesday night, but we can definitely renew in his ability to go seven innings, pitch pretty well and maybe beat a team on his own. His 1.94 ERA since returning from the minors shows us he can be that No. 2 pitcher they’ve needed. Maybe the front office had it right. Maybe not (some big starts against the Mets and the class of the National League remain). But right now the results have been staggering, and I can’t help but be excited for what Myers can give them from here.
It’s a far cry from how we felt during that sticky evening in Arlington.
Welcome back, Brett Myers.