Every night, after I have completed whatever drivel it is I have written for the next day's paper, I sit down to compose a short box previewing the next night's game. You may have seen it in the Daily News. The bulk of it is a breakdown of the two starting pitchers: their recent successes and failures, their performances against the other team's hitters, various statistics and trends. Well, while composing today's box and keeping an eye on the Redskins-Giants game last night (Jim Zorn's got some serious work to do), I came to the realization that Brett Myers has been pretty darn good since returning from his professional sabbatical.
True, it wasn't much of a revelation. Anyone who has watched the guy pitch could have figured it out. But a look at the numbers re-inforced just how good this guy has been. In fact, you could make the argument that this team would already be out of contention - or pretty close to it - without him.
1) The Phillies have won six of his last seven starts, and six of eight overall since he returned from the minors.
2) His 1.78 ERA since the All-Star break is third in the National League behind only two players many hoped the Phillies would acquire to replace him: C.C. Sabathia (1.23) and Rich Harden (1.66). On that note, the Phillies are one of two NL teams with two pitchers in the top 10 in ERA since the All-Star break (Hamels is ninth at 2.69; The cubs' Harden and Ryan Dempster are both on the list).
3) Myers has averaged 7.44 strikeouts per nine innings since the ASB, best on the Phils.
4) Myers has averaged just 14 pitches per inning, the fourth fewest in the NL. The only players with fewer are Roy Oswalt, C.C. Sabathia and Greg Maddux.
Let's take this one step further.
Brett Myers might be the Phillies' second-half MVP to this point.
Here's a look at some other names you'd think might be in consideration and their numbers in the 40 games since Myers made his first start of the second half.
Chase Utley: .295 BA, .399 OBP, six HR, 20 RBI, 24 RS
Ryan Howard: .237 BA, .328 OBP, 10 HR, 31 RBI
Jimmy Rollins: .280 BA, .350 OBP, four HR, 18 RBI, 22 RS
Pat Burrell: .196 BA, .287 OBP, five HR, 19 RBI, 12 RS
Jayson Werth: .291 BA, .412 OBP, 19 RBI, 23 RS, nine HR
Shane Victorino: .287 BA, .344 OBP, five HR, 19 RBI, 28 RS
Cole Hamels: 3-2, 2.75 ERA, 41 strikeouts, 10 walks, 52 1/3 innings.
You could make a compelling case for Jayson Werth as second-half MVP. Utley, of course, merits consideration. Victorino might have had a case a week ago, but he's tailed off slightly.
So you are left with either Myers, Hamels, Werth or Utley.
As good as Hamels has been this past month-and-a-half, Myers' numbers are even better. So it's hard to pick Hamels over Myers. Remember, we're only talking about second-half MVP.
The only argument you can make against Myers is that he isn't a position player. But keep in mind that the Phillies have won six of his eight starts since the ASB. And in those eight starts, they've provided him with just 3.88 runs of support, which ranks in the bottom 20 of all NL starters during that stretch. So there is a good chance that if Myers hasn't been as good as he's been -- the average margin of victory in the Phils' six wins in his starts has been 2.5 runs -- the Phillies would have at least a couple more losses. And five games behind the Mets with 22 to play is a lot different than three games.