Why Wil Myers is Struggling
An easy talking point this series has been Wil Myers and his struggles at the plate. The rookie outfielder enters Game Four 0-for-12 with a walk and four strikeouts. That performance married with his inexperience and temperament has borne a rash of ill-fitting explanations—most of which attempt to tie his woeful production to his costly defensive mistake in Game One. The real reasoning for Myers’ struggles are less flashy, though also less insulting: Boston has planned and executed about as well against Myers as they possibly could.
If one thing has become apparent about how the Red Sox intend to approach Myers, it’s that they want to keep the ball away. Of course this is easier said than done; if pitchers could throw the knee-high strike on the outside corner on demand then we’d see more shutouts. Since executing on a consistent basis is tough to do, you have to give the Red Sox staff credit for their location against Myers in this series. Here are the first-pitch locations Boston has thrown Myers so far:
Almost all down and/or away, which are not locations where you want your batters swinging early. Naturally Myers has swung just three times, and has fallen behind an unhealthy amount while searching for a better offering. Unfortunately, for Myers, Boston’s precision has extended beyond the first pitch in each plate appearance. Here is their overall location:
Again, almost nothing over the middle or inside. Once Myers gets to a two-strike count he has no choice but to play Boston’s game and expand his zone. Here are the pitches he’s put in play:
Just about all of the balls have been outside of the zone or on the periphery. Eight of those 12 pitches came in two-strike counts, with just one coming on the first pitch of the at-bat. To Myers’ credit, he’s tried going the other way most of the time, as he’s only pulled the ball twice. It hasn’t mattered, however, since he hasn’t made good (or poor) enough contact for one to fall in.
It’s easy to rag on Myers given the circumstances; the Rays didn’t give up that package in December for a middle-of-the-order bat who couldn’t hit in the postseason, after all. But both sides are paid for a reason, and so far Boston’s pitching staff has earned its wage when Myers has been at the plate.