Brett Myers will eat innings, stabilize Indians rotation

Happy New Year Indians fans, you've got yourself a starting pitcher: Brett Myers, who the team inked to a one-year deal worth $7 million on Tuesday. The contract also contains a club option for the 2014 season. Myers spent the 2012 season split between the Astros and White Sox, working out of the bullpen for both teams. Myers had a 3.31 ERA in 65 1/3 innings in 2012, striking out 41 and walking 15.

Over the 2010 and 2011 seasons as a starter with the Astros, the 32-year old Myers threw 439 2/3 innings, striking out 340 while walking 123 and posting a 3.79 ERA. Myers made $5.1 million in 2010 on a one-year deal, and made $7 million in 2011, the first year of a two-year extension he signed with the Astros in August of 2010. The $7 million Myers will make is a $4 million decrease from the $11 million he made in 2012 to work out of the bullpen, and is also a decrease on the $10 million club option the White Sox bought out for 2013 (though Myers did get a $3 million buyout, meaning that he's getting his $10 million regardless).

Myers has served as both a reliever and a starter over his career, but he's been extremely erratic in both roles. He's posted a FIP under 4.00 just twice in his career: 2007 (as a reliever) and 2010 (as a starter). After four straight seasons from 2005 to 2008 that saw Myers strike out at least 20% of batters, he hasn't cracked 20% in the last four years, despite two seasons as a reliever in the fold. However, as the strikeout rate has fallen, the walk rate has as well. Myers has decreased his walk rate in each of the last four years, bottoming out at 5.5% last season

The biggest knock on Myers throughout his entire career has been his propensity to allow home runs. Myers has allowed under one homer per nine innings just twice in the ten full seasons of  his career, but some fans will likely point to his home parks as a huge contributing factor towards that. He's played with the Phillies, Astros, and White Sox over his career, all of which play in parks that are favorable towards hitters. Despite that though, Myers has identical homer rates at both home and the road, meaning that it doesn't matter where he's playing…he'll still allow homers. In fact, if you dig deep into Myers' splits, they're a mess. In 2010 with the Astros, he allowed just four homers at Minute Maid Park and 16 on the road. In 2011, also with the Astros, Myers allowed 18 homers at home and 13 on the road. It's just ridiculous to think about, isn't it?

At any rate, Progressive Field is a solid park for pitchers, and Myers should at least benefit a little bit from that. He'll join a rotation that features Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, and newly acquired phenom Trevor Bauer, with Myers and Bauer representing a huge upgrade over Derek Lowe and the three-headed monster of Josh Tomlin, Corey Kluber, and Jeanmar Gomez. In 2012, the Cleveland rotation had a 5.25 ERA, the third worst mark in baseball. While adding Myers and Bauer won't turn the Cleveland starting five into one of the top staffs in the league, it will drastically improve them. If Myers provides the Indians with 200 innings of 4.00-4.20 ERA ball, he'll help them more than they can imagine by also reducing some stress on the Indians bullpen. Myers has been a hoss as a starting pitcher, cracking 190 innings in six of his seven full seasons working as a full-time starter.

And let's be honest: in this market, $7 million on a one year deal isn't an absurd amount. Kevin Correia is getting $10 million over two years, and has thrown 190 innings once in his career. Francisco Liriano oozes potential and talent, but got $14 million over two years and has only topped 160 innings once. The best comparison to the Myers signing is probably Joe Blanton's contract with the Angels, which is for two years and $15 million. Like Myers, Blanton is an innings eater who doesn't throw too hard and allows a ton of homers. Myers is only two months older than Blanton, and getting him at one year is a better deal for Cleveland.

It's not an earth-shattering, life-altering signing, but Myers will help the Indians in 2013. With this signing, along with the one-year deal they gave Mark Reynolds and the four-year pact the Tribe inked wih Nick Swisher, Cleveland will be better next season, though I'm not sure they're going to contend in the AL Central with the dominant Tigers, veteran-laden White Sox, and youthful Royals all looking like better teams going into 2013.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.