I'm pretty sure most of you already know who the most valuable member of the pitching staff was this year. No not Brett Myers. Brad Arnsberg!
Who else has had a more profound effect on the pitching staff?
In all seriousness Brett Myers is the best pitcher, or if you prefer Cy Young of the team. As I think about it though, we should have a different name for our own best pitcher of the year award for the Astros. Nothing against Mr. Young but he never pitched for the Astros and the Joe Niekro award has a nice ring to it. Anyways before we get to Myers let's first discuss some of the other contenders on the Astros pitching staff.
Dubbed the worst signing in the offseason by many, Lyon helped Ed Wade give his critics the one finger salute. Signed to a three year $15 Million contract, Lyon was considered to of been overpaid, especially if he was going to be manning the 8th inning due to the offseason acquisition of Matt Lindstrom. He turned out to be a pretty good insurance policy for the Astros. Using FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and dollars (WAR converted to a dollar amount) statistics Lyon produced a value of 1 WAR which converted to dollars is about $4.1 Million. His salary for 2010 of $4.25 Million is pretty close to the value he's provided this year.
As one of the more dependable members of the bullpen this year, Lyon lead the reliever core with at least 20 innings pitched in wins (6), HR allowed (2), innings pitched (78) and strikeouts (54). He took over the closer role after Matt Lindstrom became ineffective and placed on the disabled list. In 22 save chances Lyon saved 20 games. Given that the Astros had 60 save opportunities, having Lyon in the closer role to begin the season, may of produced a closer with around 40-45 saves in around 50 opportunities. With pitchers like Francisco Rodriguez getting $12 Million a year to close and punch his girlfriends dad, I'd say $5 Million for a reliable closer, is a pretty good price.
Probably the best reliever in the bullpen, and another one of Ed Wade's waiver claim gems. One of sixteen rookies to grace the Astros roster this year, he quickly established himself as one of the few dominate relievers in the bullpen. His control was unmatched posting a base on balls per 9 innings (BB/9) of 0.67, which is the best ratio of any reliever in the majors, and a strikeout to walk ratio (K/BB) of 10. As a reliever the 10.00 K/BB was good for third in the Major Leagues, behind Edward Mujica (12.00) of the Padres and Rafael Betancourt (11.13) of the Rockies. His 2.96 earned run average (ERA), was tops among Astro relievers who had been on the team for a majority of the year. His innings pitched was only second to Lyon with 67 IP, but a case can be made he was the better pitcher.
The lefty took a small step back, but was still effective enough to be considered a middle of the rotation starter and deserves mentioning when talking about the best pitcher on the team. The 11-12 record Wandy compiled doesn't really tell you how good Wandy was this season, it actually says more about the state of the offense. He did take a step back but his 3.6 WAR is not that far off from his 2009 WAR of 4.0, and not that far behind Myers 4.0 WAR. His 3.50 FIP, 3.60 ERA, and 3.58 xFIP indicate this is most likely where Wandy's true production lies, meaning he'll always be in the conversation for Pitcher of the Year for the Astros.
The man, the goatee, the streak, he's making me re-evaluate Wade's ability to make good investments on the free agent market. I'm sure just about everyone knows about the 32 games of 6 innings or more streak, so I wont rehash all the historical statistical data most of you probably already have memorized. He's certainly been the most valuable pitcher on the team, but there's also a case to be made that he could be the MVP.
What Myers did going 6 innings out for all but one start of the season, was put not only himself in a position to win, but also his team. Games in which Myers started the Astros were 20 - 13. The offense actually gave Myers some decent run support this season with an average of 4.37 runs per start, his 14-8 record a result of that. The other plus from Myers going 6+ inning in 32 of his 33 starts is that Brad Mills was able to bank on getting his bullpen some rest every five days. Considering both Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino struggled to find any consistency that is a nice commodity to have.
His 4.0 WAR is only slightly behind Michael Bourn's 4.2 WAR. With the numbers being that close it's a toss up between who has been the more valuable player to the team, and becomes more of a subjective argument, since comparing a pitcher to an everyday player can be difficult.
Without Myers in the rotation this season, and the injuries the Astros had to deal with would of meant relying upon Wesley Wright, or another waiver claim to fill a rotation spot. Nelson Figueroa wasn't picked off the waiver wire until mid July, so a replacement would of had to of been found before then. And I can assure you the Astros wouldn't of gone 20-13 in those starts. The bullpen would of been used quite a bit more than it had been, possibly resulting in more injuries. Thus the other effect Myers had was in the front office, because he was so reliable it meant Wade and company could focus on trying to improve the offense, instead of finding a replacement for his spot.
Quite frankly if Myers isn't in the rotation, the Astros may have a better draft selection, but the hope for next season would of withered and died with this season. So congratulations Brett Myers you are The Crawfish Boxes' 2010 Astros
Cy Young Joe Niekro selection.