Jul 24, 2009, 9:00 AM EDT
We've already covered some of the bad with Brett Myers in this column, but there's been a decent amount of good as well. Indeed, Brett showed quality from the very start, as he took the hill on July 24, 2002 against the Cubs in his first-ever major league performance. At the time, the Phillies rotation had a decent top two of Randy Wolf and Vicente Padilla (the latter of which even named to the All-Star Team), but the rest of the team's starts fell to replacement-level nobodies like Brandon Duckworth, Robert Person, Terry Adams and Joe Roa. Myers, the Phillies' #12 pick from the 1999 draft, was called on for help, and he was brilliant in his debut, fanning five, walking just one, and only making one big mistake, with a third inning home run let up to leadoff man Mark Bellhorn. The Phillies would win 4-2.
"I can't say enough about what the kid did,'' said manager Larry Bowa. "He lived up to his reputation." Brett especially impressed his receiver, Mike Lieberthal. ""He really knows how to pitch," said Lieberthal. "He didn't seemed dazed at all." But Bowa forewarned that good times would not always be so good for the young righty: "He's going to take some lumps. Don't let anyone think this is going to be a smooth ride. He's going to go through some growing pains." Sure enough, in his very next start, Brett would give up six runs in only three innings against the eventual NL champion San Francisco Giants–with a lineup missing all-time slugger Barry Bonds, no less. Brett's starts would fluctuate between the sublime (a one-run complete game victory against the Brewers) and the less so (six runs in five and two-thirds against the Mets) for the rest of the season, and his stats rounded out to a respectable 4-5 with a 4.25 ERA at season's end.
Such bouts of brilliance intertwined with stretches of inadequacy continue to define the confounding career of Brett Myers, as even last year he spent month-long periods as the team's ace after being so abhorrent earlier in the season that he was sent back to the minors. All we can ask from our now longest-tenured starter is that at the end of the day, the good outnumbers the bad. And on that day sevevn years ago, at least, he was 1-0.
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