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If Only Brett Myers Could Stop Giving Up Home Runs

How many times have the Houston Astros gone into the ninth with a six-run lead or better, like they did last night? Well before tonight, just twice, once against the Braves last week, and once against the Cubs in early April.

That does not equate to a lot of nights off to the bullpen. In fact the Astros have scored seven runs or more just 11 times this season, and have lost just two of those games. This was also the starting pitching unit's first complete game of the season, as they had threw four in 2010.

Poor Brett Myers, who gave up his 19th home run of the season last night, a total that leads the NL, and is just one away from equaling his total of 20 from the entirety of last season.Charlie Morton has given up two this season, and Bronson Arroyo has the next most with 16. Last season he had 20 games where he did not allow a HR. This year he has just two games without allowing a homer. 

But has he been unlucky, or are we seeing true regression from last year?

More after the jump.

You can see hit tracker tells us quite a bit about the 19 home runs he has coughed up. First, 12 of the 19 home runs have been at Minute Maid Park, so you might be thinking Crawford Boxes, but in fact you would be wrong. Six of them have been no doubters, six have had plenty, and seven have had just enough (five of these at MMP). 

Nine of the home runs have been in the sixth inning or later, while five of them have been in the first inning. We have often commented that Brad Mills has left pitchers in too long this season, for the simple reason that he does not trust his bullpen. Would you?

31 of the 54 runs he has given up has been on home runs, which cannot be typical for a pitcher. 

Outside of his opening day performance this was Myers' most effective outing, needing just 98 pitches to get through nine innings, his joint fourth lowest pitch total of the season. The fact that he had 17 ground-balls and no line drives is encouraging, but I'm just not sure whether you can call this turning a corner. 

Most worrying is his HR/FB ratio is right back to where it was with Philly, standing at 14.8% for 2011, up from 8.5% last year. He is also striking out far less batters this year, another troubling sign. 

We guessed that Myers was available if anyone wanted to trade for him, but the talk out of Washington confirms that the Astros are shopping both Myers and Jeff Keppinger. Whether Wade can move him, and whether Myers wants to be moved now that his buddy Brad Arnsberg is gone, is another question. To my knowledge, Myers' contract extension did not have any no-trade provision. 

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.