Does #Astros Brett Myers have the stuff to make it as a closer?

Brett Myers / Icon SMI

The Astros have announced that Brett Myers is going to be their closer in 2012. Is it a good idea?


For starters, Myers wasn’t all that good as a starter last year. As it stands now, his career ERA+ is a perfect 100, but he’s coming off a down year. His K/9 rate in 2011 was 6.7, below his career average and trending in the opposite direction from the league on average.

From that standpoint, moving Myers to a new role seems like it can’t hurt.

Myers was a closer once before, in 2007 for the Phillies, taking over from Tom Gordon. Interestingly, he posted a career high of 10.9 K/9 that year. That might have something to do with his approach, or the batters being more aggressive with the game on the line, or it might have been a blip since it was just 68 innings. Myers’ walk rate also went way up, to 3.5 per 9 innings.

Here are the guys in 2007 to record at least 20 saves with a BB rate of at least 3.5:

Rk Player SV BB/9
1 Ryan Dempster 28 4.05
2 Kevin Gregg 32 4.29
3 Jason Isringhausen 32 3.86
4 Brett Myers 21 3.54
5 Francisco Rodriguez 40 4.54
6 Jose Valverde 47 3.64
7 Bob Wickman 20 3.75
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/28/2012.

Not too many folks survive as closers with such high walk rates.

Here’s what the 7 guys did in the following 4 seasons:

Rk From To Age G GS SV IP ERA+ Tm
1 Jose Valverde 2008 2011 30-33 261 0 144 261.1 151 HOU-DET
2 Francisco Rodriguez 2008 2011 26-29 272 0 145 265.1 150 LAA-NYM-TOT
3 Brett Myers 2008 2011 27-30 115 106 0 700.1 99 PHI-HOU
4 Jason Isringhausen 2008 2011 35-38 104 0 19 97.1 87 STL-TBR-NYM
5 Kevin Gregg 2008 2011 30-33 270 0 111 256.0 107 FLA-CHC-TOR-BAL
6 Ryan Dempster 2008 2011 31-34 132 132 0 824.1 113 CHC
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/28/2012.

Bob Wickman didn’t pitch in the majors again after 2007 and Myers and Dempster became starters. Isringhausen was mostly hurt, and the rest of the guys have done pretty well. (Valverde and K-Rod have done really well, actually.)

If Myers can get his K rate back up and his BB rate back down, he should do reasonably well.


Does #Astros Brett Myers have the stuff to make it as a closer? — 12 Comments

  1. If 7/30 closers, (23 pitchers in 2007 had >= 20 saves.) had BB/9IP of 3.5 or more it would not seem to be rare, or necessarily a sign of pitching poorly at the present or in the future. Especially when 2/5 who did not become starters were very effective relievers over the next 4 years. Research has shown that we can expect that his K rate will go up, his BB rate cannot be expected to change much, his BABiP most likely will improve a little, and his RA/9 will go down. Whether or not it makes sense to move say 200 innings of an averageish starter to 1/3 the innings in high leverage relief depends upon; the other pitchers on the staff, both starters and relief, scouting judgements of whether his stuff would improve more than the average in moving to the bullpen, possible age/health issues.

  2. I was wondering if anyone thought AJ Burnett could close? Not that I think it would’ve been a good idea to replace Mariano Rivera with AJ, but I was thinking a closer role would suit him. I think he could have a great K rate and he seemed to pitch better early in his appearances (keeping him to 1-2 innings would favor him). He would definitely need to cut down on the Wild Pitches though and who knows how he would react to short rest, since he has never had any relief role.

    • I thought it was worth the try to see how his stuff would translate into one-inning situations, where he could just throw with peak fastball velocity with the threat of his curve sitting in the hitter’s mind. That approach won’t work over six or seven innings, but it certainly could for one inning.

      The biggest problem with his curveball is that it might be just as easily missed by the catcher as the hitter, meaning he’s not someone to be brought into a game with men on.

  3. In my opinion, most major league pitchers could probably be successful closers. Coming into the game with the bases empty and pitching one inning just isn’t that difficult, particularly when it’s the first time batters are facing you. Sure a few are more successful at it than others but overall I just don’t think it’s that challenging of a role.

  4. Most pitchers who’ve both started and relieved have higher K rates in relief, though not all.

    I do think Burnett could be at least an average closer. (Junk stat: A.J. has 6 career innings in relief, with 14 strikeouts … and 13 baserunners and 7 runs allowed.)

  5. Makes good sense to try him as a closerm but for a reason that’s not so obvious. If he pitches well, he will increase his trade value. The Astros are rebuilding, and a solid half year at closer might net the Astros a prospect come July.

    • I would expect Myers to have more trade value as a starter. He was quite valuable as a SP in 2010.

      David Schoenfield called this the “first dumb move of the season.” I think that’s a bit harsh, since Myers is likely to be mediocre in either role, and the Astros have no hope of contending. But I wouldn’t make that move.

      • A starter will for the most part deliver more value than a reliever. I figured Myers was so bad last year that maybe he might show more value as a closer. Good closer vs. bad starter. Not advocating the move at all. Just trying to figure out their motivation.

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