Prior to Brad Lidge’s arrival Brett Myers served as the Phillies’ closer for most of 2007, converting 21-of-24 saves with a 2.87 ERA and 64/18 K/BB ratio in 53.1 innings as a reliever.
Myers has spent most of this season on the disabled list following hip surgery, but with four scoreless appearances in five tries since returning two weeks ago he’s seemingly an alternative to Ryan Madson as the replacement closer now that Lidge has pitched himself out of ninth-inning duties.
However, manager Charlie Manuel said yesterday that Myers is not an option yet:
Watching him the three or four times we’ve run him out there, he’s not quite ready. He still has some problems at times. It’s kind of like he’s back in spring training. He’s not 100 percent. He has soreness, which is kind of normal because he missed so much time. Right now, he’s not ready to be turned loose.
For the most part the Phillies look incredibly strong heading into the postseason. Offensively they lead the NL in homers, doubles, slugging percentage, and runs scored. Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez are a combined 12-2 with a 2.74 ERA since joining the team, Cole Hamels has gone 3-1 with a 1.43 ERA in his last five starts, and the presence of Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ makes for perhaps the deepest rotation in baseball.
Yet all the good hitting and all the strong starting pitching can go for naught in the postseason if relievers can’t hold leads and Lidge’s collapse combined with Chan Ho Park’s hamstring injury and Myers’ uncertain status has turned the Phillies’ bullpen into a major question mark. Luckily they have a 7.5-game lead in the NL East and three more weeks to sort things out before embarking on their title defense.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.