Saturday, May 30, 2009

Myers Likely Done for the Year

A few days after leaving a start early due to hip trouble, it's been reported that Brett Myers will require hip surgery that will most likely end his season. Myers' numbers have not been overly impressive on the whole, but when you consider the performance of the rest of the starting rotation, losing Myers and his 4.66 ERA could be quite problematic for the Phillies.

The Phillies already appeared to need to make a trade to bolster the starting rotation, but now it becomes paramount. However, there are no easy solutions. Jake Peavy supposedly doesn't want to pitch in Philadelphia, and besides he's not really an inning-eater, so he's out. Roy Oswalt is available, but he's having a down year and he would probably cost a little more of the farm system than the Phillies would like to give up.

Erik Bedard ought to be available, but it's hard to see the Mariners giving him up for much less than they got him for...and they gave up one of the top prospects in the game (Adam Jones). The Phillies could always sign Pedro Martinez, but it's hard to imagine that would accomplish much. The last thing they need is another guy who can't get out of the sixth inning.

The name I keep hearing is Brad Penny, but is he really much of an upgrade? Penny has been terrible this year and last. And while he's had past success, before this year he had only pitched with the Marlins and Dodgers, both of whom play in pitcher's parks. His career ERA at home is 3.72, while on the road it's 4.51. Not an absurd, Chan Ho Park-ish difference, but it's still notable. In addition, Penny's career ground ball-fly ball ratio is not overly impressive, at 0.86, especially this year (0.65).

The best option might be to replace Myers from within, which appears to be the immediate solution. The three main candidates, according to the Phillies' website, are Kyle Kendrick, Andrew Carpenter, and Anthony Bastardo. Kendrick has been solid at AAA Lehigh Valley, with a 4.23 ERA in 10 starts and one might think he has the inside track because of his major league experience. Then again, he pitched his way out of the rotation last year so it's hard to imagine the Phillies being overly eager to go back to him, especially with such average numbers. Carpenter has fared a little better, with a 3.61 ERA in 8 starts, but he had one start in the big leagues already this year and the results were not pretty (5 ER in 4 1/3 IP).

So the best option might be the one with the least experience: Antonio Bastardo. Bastardo was dominant in AA Reading, with a 1.82 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in 9 games (5 starts) and, since being called up to AAA, has posted a 2.08 ERA in 2 starts.

It's worth noting that Carlos Carrasco, despite being in the running to be the fifth starter during spring training, does not seem to be an option, due to the fact that he's struggled mightily in AAA this year, going 0-6 with a 5.40 ERA in 10 starts.

So the Phillies face a tough decision. Bastardo seems like he would give the Phillies the best chance to win, but do they want to risk derailing his minor league progress? This isn't a month-long stint, whoever they bring up will have the job until the end of the year or until they lose it, and that's a lot of pressure for a young pitcher. For most teams the smart move would be to go with Kendrick or Carpenter, but the Phillies are trying to defend their World Championship, so why not take a shot with Bastardo?

No comments: