dun dun dun!
The first twist of Spring Training has occurred. Brett Myers apparently will be the Astros closer in 2012. The same Brett Myers who posted a 4 WAR in 2010 as a starter and has pitched 200+ innings the past two seasons with a sub 4 xFIP.
According to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle:
Myers last closed for the 2007 Phillies, which broke that club’s 14-year playoff drought. He had a 2.87 ERA in 48 games as a reliever with 21 saves. Notably, his strikeout rate was higher than ever with 64 in his 53 1/3 innings.
He went back to the Phillies rotation when they acquired Brad Lidge from the Astros the next winter. But he’ll get another go at it with the 2012 Astros, which were lacking for experienced relief arms beyond Brandon Lyon, who is on the mend from last year’s biceps surgery.
So much for not having a closer on a rebuilding team and possibly trying something new, like a closer by committee strategy. This most likely means Livan Hernandez will get a spot in the rotation.
This is a surprise. Sure, a few fans mentioned it every once in awhile. But, given that his best trait is pitching deep in games, it didn't seem likely. Pros: Opens up a starter slot for a deep group of candidates; experienced pitcher who has a closer mentality with runners on base. Cons: No longer has the fstball velocity that he exhibited in earlier days as a closer.
More reaction and analysis to come.