Over the past few days I’ve taken some time to do some further research on our new veteran starter Brett Myers. I think I’ve found a couple interesting things that give Tribe fans reason for optimism regarding Myers in 2013. Spending last season in the bullpen might have been the best thing that could have happened to him. There may be a few skeptics that are weary about Myers’s workload as he makes the transition back to a starting pitcher. While this is a valid concern, it’s important to keep in mind that Myers has actually successfully made the transition from reliever to starter in the past. During the 2007 season, Myers was used almost exclusively out of the bullpen with the Phillies and pitched 68.2 innings. In 2008, Myers logged 190 innings as a starter, a total that the Indians would gladly take in 2013. Then again in 2009, Myers only logged 70.2 IP and followed that up with 223.2 IP in 2010, which has been his best season as a starter to date.
Now let’s take a look at some more advanced statistics for Myers. Myers’s decline in velocity during his time with the Astros is well documented. Early in his career, Myers’s average fastball usually clocked in the low 90’s. His average fastball dropped to 89.3 MPH in 2010 and then again to 88.4 MPH in 2011. After being moved to the bullpen last year, his average fastball rose back up to 91.6 MPH. This should not come as much of a surprise as relievers can usually afford to exert more on their pitches anyways. The main reason why I think Myers’s move to the bullpen last year will be beneficial to him and the Tribe is because Myers rediscovered how to utilize his curveball more last season.
The percentage of curveballs thrown by Myers jumped from 22.9% in 2011 to 27.7% in 2012. This is the highest percentage of curveballs Myers has thrown in the big leagues since 2004. Let me explain the significance of this to you in terms of numbers. Here are the career opposition batting averages against Myers for his other pitch types:
Fastball – .298
Slider – .270
Sinker – .323
Cutter – .272
Want to know what the opposition has hit off of Myers’s curveball over the course of his career? The opposition has an AVG of .181 off Myers’s curveball over his whole career. Since 2007, the highest single season AVG off his curveball is .198 (2008).
This is why spending 2012 in the bullpen was significant to Myers and the Indians. Likely due to his declining velocity in previous seasons, Myers stopped relying on his fastball as much as he had in years past. Thus, he rediscovered how effective his curveball can be and therefore threw it a lot more often in return. The results speak for themselves with an extremely effective season out of the bullpen least season. If he continues utilizing his curveball correctly next season, then the Tribe can expect much of the same success from him as he transitions back to the rotation.