Monday, June 30, 2008

The Buzz Around the Bullpen: Is Brett Myers Headed for the Pen?

Welcome back to another edition of the “Buzz Around the Bullpen”. With the completion of today’s games, most teams throughout MLB have surpassed the “half-way” point in games played. While there have been some surprising performances thus far, the Tampa Bay Rays have stolen the show. The Rays are in the midst of battle for first place in a division that has four teams with winning records. Even more impressive, they have looked unfazed by any pressure from the Sox and the Yanks. In an era dominated by huge payrolls, the Rays have been a breath of fresh air. This could be a great story down the stretch and I look for the Rays to continue to ride their pitching into the playoffs.

Big Hits

Ricky Nolasco (SP, Florida Marlins): Ricky Nolasco has quietly won eight games this year in Florida. Even more intriguing is the fact that Nolasco has gone 7-1 over his last ten starts. In his past seven starts, Nolasco has only given up more than three earned runs only once. The young Marlins staff has been extremely inconsistent this season and they are in desperate need of one of their young arms to step up and anchor the staff. Nolasco’s last ten starts has proven that he can be the consistent pitcher that the Marlins need him to be. Nolasco is still available in over 40% of leagues and could be a great start this week against the Washington Nationals.

Eric Stults (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers): Stults has been a beneficiary of the injuries suffered by the Dodgers starting rotation this season. After Brad Penny and Hiroki Kuroda both went down to shoulder injuries, Stults got the call from Triple-A Las Vegas and has pitched well in his first two starts. Manager Joe Torre has been impressed enough to decide he will have a six-man rotation through the All-Star break. Often times when pitchers get promoted to the big leagues, their adrenaline starts pumping and they struggle with their command. However, Stults has kept his cool and has only walked two in 15 IP. Stults could be a good pick-up this week as he is slated for two starts.

Ryan Church (OF, New York Mets): Church has been one of the most underrated fantasy hitters this year. Before suffering two concussions, Church was putting up consistent fantasy numbers each week. While Church’s numbers have been somewhat of a surprise, I believe his numbers this year are more of a reflection of what kind of player Church can be. For the past three years, Church was bothered by injuries and even when he was healthy, his numbers were staggered because he played in RFK stadium. Church has found a home in New York and if he can stay healthy don’t be surprised if he puts up close to 25-30 HRs this season. Because of his recent injuries, owners have neglected to stick with Church over the past several weeks. I would definitely make a move to pick up Church if he is still available. Somehow he is still available in over 40% of leagues. Once his bat starts to heat up again, you’ll be happy you gave him a chance.

Big Miss

Brett Myers (SP, Philadelphia Phillies): Myers has been awful the past two months. There are rumors in Philadelphia that Myers may even be moved out of the rotation and back into the bullpen. From a fantasy standpoint, he could retain some value if he works his way back into the closer role. However, if you were looking for Myers to anchor the front-end of your starting rotation, you better look long and hard for a replacement. In his last 13 starts, Myers carries an alarming 1-8 record. Over his past 7 games, he has only let up 3 or less earned runs once. If you are an owner, now is the time to think about whether you can handle a move to the bullpen for Myers. If you have decent save and hold numbers, make a move with someone that needs bullpen help. Myers will most likely move to the bullpen and you need to fill the gap in your starting rotation. Pitchers often fall into slumps just as hitters do but Myers’ stuff is too good for such a prolonged struggle. The rumor is that his struggles are a result of a combination of mental and mechanical problems. However, I believe Myers’ fell in love with his closer role last year and his heart just isn’t set on starting. As a pitcher, you have to believe in your stuff and I believe that Myers may think his stuff is better suited in the bullpen.

As with any SportsJudge articles, please feel free to post any questions or comments. Until next time, keep your ears open for the Buzz Around the Bullpen.

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Kevin Fenstermacher said...

I really feel Stults is one of those guys that you should stay away from at all costs. He had a hot start with his first few games, but I have seen him pitch before and there really isn't anything that truly stands out to make me think this production will continue. He will be out of the rotation soon on top of that.

I agree with you that Myers fell in love with the closer role. The problem is there is close to no chance of him returning to that role, at least this year with the Phillies. Charlie Manuel gave Myers the opening day start to get him back into the mode of being a starting pitcher and by getting aspirations of being in the bullpen out of his head because he would help the team better as a starter. That remains the case with Lidge dominating as the closer and the rest of the bullpen doing a solid job. Myers is one of those guys who will do what the team asks to win so I think it is just as much mechanical as his heart not being set on being a starter. According to sources, the Phillies AAA pitching coach noticed some things wrong with Myers mechanics and now Myers has been optioned down to AAA to work with him. Myers really does have great stuff and should return to the rotation sooner rather than later.

Replacing Myers will either be reliever Chad Durbin or minor leaguers J.A. Happ or Carlos Carrasco. I think Durbin will stay in the pen cause he has been better than expected there. Happ will probably get the call up to the bigs as he is putting together solid numbers in AAA. The one to watch out for here is Carrasco, who is one of the top prospects in the Phils farm system. I doubt he gets the nod but keep an eye on him (especially for dynasty/keeper leagues) if he does get the call.