This was unexpected, to say the least. The Astros have named Brett Myers as their closer before spring training games have even started, which finally helps us figure out who will pitch the ninth in Houston this year. Nearly all of Myers’s value last season as an innings eater, which is why this announcement is such a surprise. He was the only Astro to top 200 innings last year, which was also the case in 2010. Even so, the Astros are moving Myers to closer, a position he held in Philadelphia in 2007.
As seen above, Myers does receive a significant upgrade in his stats when you split his numbers between relief and starting appearances, which is true for most pitchers.
As a starter, Myers was pretty bad last year, posting an ERA- of 119 and an FIP- of 113, which made his impressive 2010 looks more and more like an odd outlier when looking at the rest of his career. He does have problems allowing home runs as a starter, but his xFIP of 3.75 last season over 216 innings shows that he can be a decent pitcher if he keeps the ball in the ballpark at a league average rate. The difference in his home run rate in relief appearances compared to when he starts is vast — certainly a positive in his transition to full-time closer.
Myers is also one of those pitchers who has been around so long that you might think he is an aging veteran in his late 30’s. The grey spots in his beard also have a lot to do with that perception. Myers is actually just 31, and he could have a solid second career as a relief pitcher. With a career 3.41 ERA out of the bullpen, it is doubtful that Myers turns into a top notch back-end reliever, but not every closer on a fantasy team needs to be at that level.
It does seem as though he has a good deal of job security, as the closing job in Houston looked ugly before the announcement. It should also be noted that Myers is owed $11mm this year, which will make it difficult for him to be traded. The Astros shopped him in the winter but found no buyers, unsurprisingly. As a reliever, trading him becomes even more difficult. Another interesting aspect of Myers’s move to closer is that his vesting option for the 2013 season has been changed to games finished from games started. The vesting option is worth $10mm next year, with a $3mm buyout. There is a possibility that the Astros keep Myers from reaching the games finished total in order to avoid having to pay an extra $7mm next season. I have been told that Hot Stove on MLB Network reported the mark is 50 games finished, but I have been unable to verify this. Only 17 pitchers finished 50 games last year, so that total is not exactly an easily attained goal. The Astros could trade him midseason and eat cash, but I like his odds of staying in Houston this year due to his contract.
But let’s get back to baseball. The added value of Myers having both starting and relief eligibility will be a plus, especially in Ottoneu. In league’s with innings caps, Myers turns into a respectable reliever who should net above 20 saves should he stay healthy, which has not been a big issue for him during his career. Even if he is traded, he should net holds, which are also accounted for in Ottoneu. I am tempted to put Myers in the fourth tier of my closer rankings, right next to Brandon League and Frank Francisco, but due to the relatively small sample size of Myers’ appearances in relief, he has thrown just 63.1 total innings out of the bullpen, I have to put him in the bottom tier.
Myers is a solid closer to grab late, as his job security, dual eligibility, and lack of tradability are his best attributes. Unless Myers folds in the role, which is possible, he is a solid closer to grab as your draft comes to a close.