From last Wednesday's season preview of the Astros...
How is Brett Myers going to respond for being moved into the closer's role for the first time since 2007?
The Astros traded their 2011 closer, Mark Melancon, to the Red Sox in exchange for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Wieland. Lowrie is already the starter at short for the Astros, and Wieland will probably crack their rotation sooner rather than later. So that trade gave the team an opening at the closer's position. Instead of giving the postiion to a live arm youngster who could potentially develop into something, Houston took a unique approach to the position by planting veteran starter Brett Myers into the position.
Myers has been a full-time reliever for exactly one season in his career: 2007 with the Phillies, where 48 of his 51 appearances came in relief. He saved 21 games for the Phillies, and had a 4.33 ERA over 68 2/3 innings. He walked 3.54 batters per nine innings (the highest mark of his career since he was a 23 year-old), allowed 1.18 homers per nine innings (actually lower than his career average of 1.27 per nine), and had a 45.8% groudball rate (second lowest of his career). But with those numbers came one positive: during his stint as closer, Myers had a career high 10.88 strikeout rate.
Myers is in the last year of a two-year deal signed prior to the 2011 season, and will make $11 million this year. The club also holds a $10 million option on Myers for 2013 that will more than likely be bought out for $3 million. In 2010, his first with the Astros (on a one year deal), Myers lived up to the $5.1 million he made, accruing 4.0 fWAR with a 3.14 ERA. But last season, he was a disaster, with a 4.46 ERA and just 1.5 fWAR to his credit.
Houston's shift of Myers to the closer's role signifies that they want to go young in the rotation. This makes sense with their current rotation composition, which consists of four young starters and the ageless Livan Hernandez. What doesn't make sense to me is why they just didn't role with Myers instead of Hernandez in the rotation, and then using someone else in the closer's role. Hell, they have one of Ed Wade's most notorious mistakes, Brandon Lyon, sitting in the bullpen making $5.5 million this year, and he's got much more closing experience than Myers. Maybe the injury that limited him to just 13 innings last year played a role in that decision.
It just seems silly for Houston to throw a high-paid veteran in a role that could easily be filled by someone with a live arm in the minors. I know new GM Jeff Luhnow is just trying to clean up Wade's mess, but he's doing it in a little bit of an odd way.
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