Statistics as of 5/20/08This week, we'll look at the strange saga of Brett Myers, who has given up the most runs (42) in the NL this season. Myers was the Phillies' Opening Day starter in 2007 after fanning 397 in 413 innings from 2005 to 2006. By the end of 2007, he was their closer, and he finished their division-clinching win on September 30th. He has struggled to find his velocity in 2008, with radar readings from 88-92 instead of his usual 91-96. I scout these pitchers personally, recording their velocity, pitch selection and motions by watching their games. Please feel free to post your comments below on these columns. I use the standard 20-80 scouting scale to rate pitchers. These velocities are suggestive and not determinant of a pitch's rating. For example, a 75 MPH curveball might rank as a 60 because of its movement and/or deception. 80 Outstanding (96+ MPH fastball, 88+ MPH slider, 82 MPH curveball)
Rating: %Thrown: Fastball 55 25 Cutter 55 25 Curveball 55 15 Slider 55 25 Split-finger 50 5 Changeup 50 5 Control 50 Delivery 45 Composure 40Myers' four-seam fastball is currently 90-91 MPH and his cut fastball is 86-89. His curveball is still effective at 72-80 MPH, although he hangs it too often. Myers relies on his 83-87 MPH slider a lot when in trouble, and he spots it better than his fastball. He is struggling to locate his fastball this year, and misses his spots too frequently. Myers also throws an 81-82 MPH changeup and an 84-86 MPH splitter now and then. Besides his curve, his stuff has lost its separation this year - frankly, his pitches look a lot alike. A scout suggested to ESPN's Jayson Stark that Myers' over-reliance on his cutter has reduced his velocity. Another reason could be his shoulder injury last year. Myers was clocked from 94-98 at this time last year but was in the low 90s after he came off the DL. Myers also seems to be throwing across his body more in 2008. As a reliever, he looked like he was coordinating his motion from back to front more efficiently and striding straight toward the plate. As his fastball has been less effective, Myers has thrown more breaking pitches. Pitchers are supposed to throw these with the same motion as their fastball but often rotate their body for extra torque. Kerry Wood blew out his elbow early in his career throwing his slider this way. Myers' problems could be a vicious cycle: by relying on his cutter and breaking pitches more, he is getting away from what might help him regain his velocity. Pitching coach Rich Dubee wants Myers to focus on long-toss in between starts and his fastball and curveball during them. It is tempting but overly simplistic to write off Myers as a head case who is receiving his just desserts for his poor off-field behavior. His strikeout rate is still high, and he could be pitching through an injury. Moving back to the bullpen and smoothing out his delivery might help, but the Phillies need innings. Calls for this move will intensify if Myers doesn't straighten out soon. --------------- Radar Love - Heat in the last week:
92-96: Jeremy Guthrie against Washington on May 18.
91-96: Daniel Cabrera in New York on May 20.
91-93: Jered Weaver against the Dodgers on May 18.
90-92: Cole Hamels in fanning 11 Nationals on May 20. He struck out five with fastballs, five with his changeup and one with a curve.
90-94: Jonathan Sanchez against the White Sox on May 16.
90-92: Gavin Floyd in San Francisco on May 16.
89-93: Justin Masterson while beating the Royals on May 20.
Article first appeared 5/22/08