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06/28/08 9:06 PM ET
Phillies may move Myers to bullpen
Struggling righty endured shortest start of career Friday
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Struggling starting pitchers typically say the worst part about a poor outing is waiting five days until the next one. Brett Myers may have to wait longer. A day after the shortest outing of Myers' career, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and pitching Rich Dubee acknowledged the possibility that the right-hander may not make his next start, scheduled for Thursday in Atlanta, the final game of a 10-day road trip.
"We'll see what we're going to do about it," Manuel said.Myers is testing the patience of his manager and pitching coach and appears to be in his own head more than ever. He declined to speak after his two-plus inning stint on Friday -- in which he blew a 5-1 lead in the third by allowing five straight Rangers to reach base -- and didn't want to talk on Saturday, either. His struggles began on his second pitch of the game to leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler, an 88-mph fastball that followed a changeup. Kinsler smacked it for a home run. "He got shot on the second pitch and that was it," Dubee said. "He went away from his fastball, just like that. That's what I saw." Dubee hoped to see progression from Myers' previous outing, when the righty pitched well against the Angels. Though he gave up three homers, Dubee was pleased with the life on his fastball. "I thought it was something to build off," Dubee said. "If you're going good and you're strong-willed enough, you shake off [Kinsler's home run]. There's a point on the board. You can't do anything about it now. You just have to move on." Dubee noticed a disturbing trend, estimating that Myers threw 24 fastballs out of his 66 total pitches, only half for strikes. On a typical Myers night, he'll throw 50-55 percent fastballs. In throwing 25 pitches to his final five batters in the third inning, Myers only threw 11 fastballs. Myers' lack of confidence in his heater is getting the best of him. "Somewhere, he lost that edge," Dubee said. "Some of it is delivery. Sometimes it's approach. Sometimes you have to trust your stuff and get after it. We'll try to get him to mix. We try to get him to establish his curveball with his fastball, and then all of a sudden, he doesn't establish his fastball. He has to find the right approach. It's like a ping-pong ball. He keeps going back and forth." Though Dubee acknowledged that the team saw "a different animal" with Myers in the bullpen, Manuel thought that was because he was happy closing. If the team were to make a change, Myers could pitch in middle relief. "He's trying to find it and everything he does doesn't seem to work," Manuel said. "You see guys who walk up to home plate and look like they can hit everything up there, and that same hitter a month later can't [make contact]." The Phillies have a number of different options. They could switch Myers and Chad Durbin. They could use Monday's off-day to bring back Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer on their regular days, though that might only push Myers' start back two days. J.A. Happ, pitching well for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, started on Saturday and could make a spot start. Regardless, the guy with the National League's sixth-worst ERA among starters with more than 80 innings can't continue pitching like this. "We're on different roads," Dubee said. "Hopefully, he'll find the right lane pretty soon. We keep chatting. We keep instructing. We keep trying to push the right buttons. We'll see."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.