Saturday, June 10, 2006

Failing To Step Up

How many games does a team have to lose following a very good road trip to the West Coast before that trip is a distant memory?


For the second straight night the Phillies came up short against the Washington Nationals.  This game had loss written all over it from the get go when Brett Myers, their best pitcher, struggled early and often; as it was, the Phils nearly pulled it out with a big five-run rally in the seventh inning led by, who else, Chase Utley.  But Rheal Cormier allowed Washington to tie the game in bottom of the frame and Clay Condrey took the loss in the twelfth inning.

There are some who will argue the 100 minute rain delay to start the game was the real culprit here, but I am not among them.  Staked to a two run lead in the first inning, Myers began the game by setting the Nationals down in order.  In the bottom of the second inning, he allowed a bad play behind him, a misjudged line drive that sailed over the head of Bobby Abreu, to once again upset his apple cart and from then on it was downhill.  A real ace wouldn’t collapse under those circumstances.  Myers did, however, giving up four straight hits and two runs before an error by David Bell allowed a third run to score.  The ball Abreu misjudged was ruled a hit, one of those vagaries of official scoring that says if the fielder did not touch the ball it was not an error.   Tell that to Myers.

Only yesterday I had written Myers was the most dependable starter, the only dependable starter, on this staff.   If he is their ace, however, it is as much by default as by performance.  Before commenters jump down my throat and point out this was the first game of the season in which the right hander allowed more than three earned runs (he gave up six of them in three innings of work), let me point out that there is more to being an ace than stats.   The Phils needed this win to avoid falling further back of the Mets;  they needed this win to maintain some momentum built up in LA and Phoenix; and, they needed this win because that’s what you want from your best starter following a moribund performance in a loss the night before: stop a swing in momentum dead in its tracks before things get out of hand.


Farid said...

As an ardent Nationals' fan and blogger, I feel your pain. The Nationals were making those type of mistakes the first two months of the season before somehow turning things around. No way they are playing this well because of talent; it's just like a stock market correction -- it's a leveling off. The Phillies are a much better team than the Nationals ... I'm just enjoying this "correction" beforeit rides itself out.

RickSchuBlues said...

Well, Myers isn't quite a real ace yet. In my opinion, he is not a dominant, mature, or smart enough pitcher to be considered an ace, perhaps ever. But he has finally established himself as an upper-tier pitcher, and that's about as good as it's going to get from him. Any higher projections are probably unrealistic. He is unquestionably the Phillies' best starter right now, but I think they've got to set their sights a little higher for that designation in the future. To assume Myers is going to be your number one pitcher for the next ten years, a guy to build the staff around, to me would be a big mistake. That's want the Phillies wanted to see this guy as, but there's a discrepancy between that and reality. He's good, but not great. Don't expect too much. I think 15 wins and a 3.50 ERA is about his ceiling, at least on a mediocre team like this one.

Oisín/Wizlah said...

I have to disagree tom - I figured yesterday was going to be a tough one simply because myers had stopped a losing habit at least twice before this season, and seemed to keep the phillies rolling a lot in the last two months. I expected him to lose at least one like last night. You can't be a stopper all the time. I don't think this year that he'll lose that many.

Is he an ace yet? RSB says he's not dominant or mature, but he seems to have put away hitters consistently with a handy combination of some strikeouts and a lot of groundballs. two years ago, he'd shake people off and get pounded. he doesn't seem to do that now. the variety of ways that he's got folk out suggests to me that maybe he's developing the smarts too. I think you can build around that kind of consistency, but it would help if he had someone else giving him a dig-out every now and then.

Myers has had plenty to upset him in other games this season, only to right himself (that three run homerun against the mets?). I think you're being too harsh on one performance. I'm confident he's not going to let us down too much like that for the rest of the way.