BY NICK STAFFIERI, Contributor
One Philadelphia Phillies left-handed starter will begin his 24th season in the major leagues next spring. His career has been simply remarkable, but Jamie Moyer might not have much, if anything, left in the tank. However, questions of age are nothing new to the 47-year old and he just might come out and surprise you.
The rumors surrounding the Winter Meetings about the Phillies possibly acquiring ace Roy Halladay, beg the question what role will Moyer play in the starting rotation next year. As it stands, Moyer, who turned 47-years of age on November 18, is expecting to arrive in Clearwater, Florida, for Spring Training, next February as part of the Phillies five-man rotation.
But still, everyone wonders, what’s in that tank.
If history tells us anything, we can probably predict with a bit of certainty what kind of numbers Moyer can produce. Here is a look at recent pitchers in the Major Leagues who have pitched into their mid-to-late 40s.
Phil Niekro – Nierko pitched his final season in 1987 at age 48 and compiled a 7-13 record with a 6.30 ERA. The season before that, at age 47, he was a respectable 11-11 with a 4.32 ERA. At 46, he compiled comparable numbers to Moyer’s 2009 season with a 16-12 record and an ERA of 4.09.
Charlie Hough – The Crafty Dodger pitched his final season at age 47 in 1994. He went 5-9 with a 5.15 ERA. At age 46, Hough compiled a record of 9-16 with a 4.27 ERA.
Nolan Ryan – The All-Time Leader in strikeouts and the Master of the Fastball, Nolan Ryan compiled a 5-5 record with a 4.88 ERA at age 46, his last in the majors. Ryan posted a 9.54 strikeouts per 9 innings of baseball over his career. In his final season, however, that number dropped to 6.27 when he posted only 46 strikeouts in 66.1 innings.
Randy Johnson – Johnson is the only pitcher on my list that, like Moyer, has yet to retire. Randy Johnson is one year younger than Moyer. In 2009, Johnson compiled an 8-6 record with a 4.88 ERA at the age of 45. Like Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson is one of the greatest strikeout pitchers to play the game. During his career, he posted 10.61 strikeouts per 9 innings. Last season, that number dropped to 8.06.
No one will argue that the pitchers on this list have had outstanding careers as Major Leaguers. But when challenged with an age above 45 years, performance has been less than stellar.
It is tough to justify saying that we can expect Moyer to buck the trend of recent pitchers in his age category. If the expectation for a fifth starter in this rotation is to be 11-11 with a 4+ ERA, then perhaps Moyer can give us that in 2010. If you are expecting anything more, get Ruben on the line and pitch your best alternative.