When the Phillies drafted Brett Myers they probably told themselves they had a young, raw talent who would mature into a front line pitcher. And when he debuted at Wrigley Field in July, 2002, against another highly touted young hurler, Mark Prior, and won 4-2, they must have congratulated themselves on their good fortune. No doubt they still saw Myers as young and raw, but he was on his way.
Well, five years later Myers still has raw talent but he hasn't harnessed it . Worse, he never will. This is a guy whose stuff everyone falls over himself praising. "Best stuff on the staff," more than one scout, pitching coach and manager has been heard to say. Yet, Myers remains an unpredictable and unreliable force. He is just as likely to go out there and surrender home runs in bunches as he is to blow away batters. He can be handed a lead and give it back the very next inning. He can lose focus in the blink of an eye. He can try to out-muscle a guy with his fastball when something off-speed or breaking would be a better, dare we say, wiser choice.
I'm sure his teammates are getting tired of the roller coaster ride of playing behind him. I can imagine Chase Utley, who even when he struggles with one part of his game picks up the other parts, said to himself, "here we go again" when Myers was handed a 3-0 lead like last night and gave it up in the next two successive innings.
Myers was the putative ace of this team. He was handed the opening day assignment probably more as a confidence-booster than a reward. He was coming off a very so-so 2006 season in which he had serious off-field problems as well as his usual Jekyll and Hyde on field performances. Long criticized for his poor conditioning, Myers arrived at Spring Training a lighter man by 30 pounds and armed with a new contract. Moreover, he felt grateful for the fan support if not forgiveness he perceived following those off-field troubles.
All of that good will amounted to a respectable opening day start against Atlanta in which he blew the lead with two outs in the eight inning when he tried to sneak just one more fastball by Edgar Renteria. In his next two starts, against Florida and Houston, he was bombed. It wasn't even close against Houston. His teammates have struggled badly since Opening Day and desperately needed a stopper, but instead they got an implosion. They'd be well-advised not to count too heavily upon him going forward because while Myers may possess that raw talent, the Phillies never know which pitcher is going to show up on any given evening.