When the Phillies traded for Brad Lidge and announced they would move Brett Myers from the bullpen to the starting rotation, every baseball writer worth his salt wrote some version of the following sentence:
The consensus was that Myers was the best pitcher available, and he was already on the Phillies roster! So why not move him into the rotation?
Just one problem. It turned out Myers was a horrible “free agent” pick up. He began the season by going 3-9 in 17 starts with an earned run average of 5.84.
Fortunately, Myers was a terrific trade deadline acquisition. Friday’s win improved Myers’ record to 8-10. It also extended an incredible stretch of pitching. The Phillies sent Myers to the at midseason and recalled him July 20. He got a no-decision in his first start but has gone 6-1 since and is 4-0 with a 0.58 ERA in his past four starts. That’s two runs in 31 innings to go with 35 strikeouts.
On Friday night, Myers threw 81 of his 118 pitches for strikes. Yowza.
Bob Ford wrote a column on Saturday criticizing Phillies president Dave Montgomery for not doing enough to improve the Phillies before the trade deadline. And it’s true the Phillies didn’t make any spectacular improvements during the season, unless you consider Scott Eyre or Matt Stairs spectacular (and, let’s face it, you don’t).
But if we thought Myers was the best “free agent” available this winter, then surely he also qualifies as a stellar trade deadline acquisition?
Myers’ start last night not only gave the Phillies hope that they can reach the postseason, but also that they can advance past the first round. It’s long been my theory that a team needs two top of the line starters to advance through the playoffs (or you need to be on a mission from god, a la the 2007 Rockies). Beckett and Matsuzaka. Schilling and Johnson. Clemens and Pettitte. These are guys who carried their teams to greatness. Hamels and Myers? Two months ago, it would have sounded crazy to suggest that they could get this team to the World Series. But one thing is for sure – we’re not watching the Brett Myers of two months ago.