Clearly uneasy with throwing a fastball that, since the season opened, has been flat, Brett Myers leaned on his cutter Sunday. He neither fooled the Pirates nor pleased pitching coach Rich Dubee, who wanted him to scrap the cutter. And after the Phillies' 5-1 loss that ended an otherwise successful road swing, Myers had a 10-minute, closed-door meeting with manager Charlie Manuel, who had plenty of questions.
Myers didn't have many answers.
"I don't know," said Myers, 2-2 with a 5.11 ERA in six starts. "I'm trying to throw as hard as I can every time. There are no mis-hits. Arm feels fine. That's the thing why I can't figure it out. It's not like I'm hurt. It's not like it's aching. Right now, it just ain't coming out. It's like doo-doo going up there."
Myers, the Phillies' season-opening starter, permitted four runs on eight hits over five innings, including two home runs by Pirates leadoff man Nate McLouth. That followed last Tuesday night in Colorado, when he allowed six runs on 11 hits. He has yielded 10 homers in 37 innings, one more than he gave up in 68 2/3 innings last season.
"I haven't seen his (good) fastball," Manuel said, and Myers admitted he has stayed away from the pitch because his velocity has dropped from 92-95 to 88-90 for no reason he can fathom. Against the Pirates, Manuel said Myers topped out at 89.
"Well, maybe he needs to do a little more long-toss (between starts) to build his arm strength," Dubee said. "Maybe he needs to throw his fastball more. He's not a real big believer in long-toss, and I am. I think it's something he has to buy into a little more."
Dubee also would've preferred that Myers buy into the game plan. Instead, he threw only 37 fastballs and 12 curveballs, while mixing in 27 cutters.
"The cutter he wasn't going to throw. See how long that lasted?" Dubee said. "We were going to throw more curveballs. He threw them to the first two hitters, then put the curveball in his back pocket for whatever reason."
Asked if he thinks Myers may be hurt, Dubee said, "I've got to go off what he says. But whether it's 88, 90 or 92, there are a lot of guys pitching in this league at 88, without the other weapons that he has.
"Maybe his (last) couple outings will (cause him to) see the light. I don't know."