Missing: The Consistency of Brett Myers

For a few years running Phillies pitcher Brett Myers has entered the season with the “he could (insert positive breakout pitching feat)” analysis seemingly attached to his hip. Following stellar seasons in 2005 and 2006, he was moved into the closers role last year when Tom Gordon went down with an injury. As a closer he was essentially lights out, though he himself also missed time with an injury. The Brad Lidge acquisition pushed Myers back into his regular role as a starter and, suffice it to say, he has not lived up to expectations so far.

In looking at his numbers I found that he has some pretty significant splits. Below are his overall numbers on the season, followed by his splits against lefty and righty hitters:

Overall: 8 GS, 49.0 IP, 15 BB, 42 K, 5.33 ERA, 5.53 FIP, 1.47 WHIP

LHH: 87 PA, 10 BB, 21 K, .227/.314/.480
RHH: 132 PA, 5 BB, 21 K, .325/.359/.569

Righties have hit him harder and more often. Another area of significance is his Home/Away splits, where he has pitched an equal amount of times:

Home: 4 GS, 2-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 27 IP, 6 BB, 25 K
Away: 4 GS, 0-3, 8.18 ERA, 2.04 WHIP, 22 IP, 9 BB, 17 K

Here are his Home/Away splits against batters faced:

Home: 109 PA, 5 HR, .210/.266/.390
Away: 110 PA, 7 HR, .367/.417/.634

Myers is pitching very well at home yet struggling on the road, which defies conventional wisdom in the sense that his home park is arguably the most hitter-friendly in the entire National League. In looking at his starts on the road, though, he has pitched in Arizona, Colorado, and Cincinnati; three stadiums also known for their hitting prowess.

He has also struggled when a runner gets on first base, a problem that in part led to the minor league demotion of Dave Bush:

Nobody On: .269/.320/.538
On First: .367/.387/.767

Batters have performed better against him early in the game than later, as evidenced by the numbers against the first and second times through the batting order:

1st: .329/.373/.557
2nd: .266/.319/.469

Myers recently stated that he attributes his struggles to lost velocity on his fastball. A quick check of the wonderful data here at Fangraphs shows that, in 2005 and 2006, his fastball averaged between 91 and 93 miles per hour; it is currently averaging 89 mph. The decrease in velocity may or may not be a direct cause of his inconsistency this season, but his career splits are nowhere near as drastic in these areas as they are right now; in fact, the times through the order numbers are actually reversed in his career splits as the first time through generally struggles while the second and third time through tends to do better.

Regardless, something is going on that needs fixing, whether it be his selection or sequencing, because whatever he is currently doing has not worked. If this keeps up, he could enter next season as a disappointment rather than a potential breakout candidate.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

4 Responses to “Missing: The Consistency of Brett Myers”

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  1. Bill B. says:

    Eric, this is a good look at Myers, though you left out last night’s awful performance against the Braves. I went a bit more in depth and essentially concluded that his problems boil down to location more than anything.

    The decline in velocity is definitely concerning but if my Excel spreadsheets are right, here are his fastball averages so far:

    3/31 vs. WAS: 88.89 MPH
    4/6 @ CIN: 89.79 MPH
    4/11 vs. CHC: 89.97 MPH
    4/17 vs. HOU: 89.54 MPH
    4/22 @ COL: 90.49 MPH (the altitude adds a MPH or two I believe)
    4/27 @ PIT: 89.51 MPH
    5/3 vs. SFG: 89.26 MPH
    5/8 @ ARI: 90.68 MPH (heat adding a MPH or two?)
    5/14 vs. ATL: 88.78 MPH

    His fastball velocity has been pretty much consistently 89 MPH or around there for the entirety of the season, and he’s still been striking out hitters at a good rate, while his walk rate hasn’t really jumped. Based on that, I don’t think we can say his fastball is a problem since he is still making Major League hitters swing and miss over and over again. I think it’s all about location with him.

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  2. Eric Seidman says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    Bill, I did this about an hour before his start last night. I guess I jinxed him by mentioning how good his home numbers had been.

    Yeah, he’s still striking a lot of guys and his curveball/slider has still been stellar.

    He’s literally throwing the ball right down the middle, though. It might work against the Giants but it isn’t going to work against Yunel, Chipper, Teixiera, the ultimate Phillie killer Matt Diaz, and players of that ilk.

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  3. Bill B. says:

    Oh my bad, I didn’t notice that you wrote this before the game. My bad.

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  4. Eric Seidman says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    I actually have a Pitch F/X analysis of Brett Myers in my queue of things to do; though I’m delaying it because I want him to turn it around. Mitch Williams said it best in the post-game last night. Myers needs to just snap and get it all out of his system. Last year and in the past he had attitude; right now he seems tentative, hoping a pitch is going somewhere instead of knowing a batter stands no chance.

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