Tonight’s starter for the St. Louis Cardinals is Lance Lynn. You may have heard of him. He pitched for Ole Miss and likes to throw a heavy assortment of fastballs at various speeds. Up, down, and all around. He occasionally throws a curve because he gets bored or while he refills the propane tank for the next inning’s cheddar assault.
The thing about Lynn is that he drives fans crazy with his starts. He throws a lot of pitches early, works long counts, gets a ton of contact and occasionally gets dinged up. Does that warrant the complaining and “Lynning” tweets? Let’s dig in.
Lynn’s fielding independent earned run average is 3.17, which leads the team(if you exclude Jaime Garcia due to a lesser amount of starts). So I ask, is the discomfort with Lynn warranted or does it connect to his unorthodox manner of recording outs? He isn’t easy to watch but gets the job done with his own two hands the most.
Lynn wins. it can’t be denied. Since he picked up a baseball and starting slinging heaters for the Cards on June 2nd, 2011, Lynn has won games. His 58 games since account for a 61% win rate, and he is on pace for less than his usual 15 wins this season due to a lack of run support. Unlike his rotation colleague Michael Wacha, Lynn doesn’t get the steady diet of 5-6 runs. While Wacha got 10 runs in his Sunday victory in San Diego, Lynn got zero in his last start against the Giants on Tuesday. With a few more runs of support, Lynn would have at least 11 wins right now. Instead, tonight he vies for win #10 in Arizona.
Lynn’s strikeouts per nine innings is at its highest peak this season, sitting at 9.6. His strikeouts to walks ratio is 2.92-1, also his best in years. His ERA+ is 132, and 100 ranks as average. That is adjusted to the player’s ballpark to more accurately showed how much damage Lynn takes. He has faced 577 batters in 2015 and struck out 25% of them, which is an impressive stat.
Lynn is durable but doesn’t go deep into games. He’s only missed a couple starts this year, an occurrence that may hold him from reaching 200 innings. He has pitched 7 or more innings only 6 times in 23 starts. At 134.1 innings with roughly 8 starts to go before the end of the season, Lynn would have to dig deeper into games to reach 200. Still a durable man who has escaped major injury.
He’s a beast and doesn’t care or hinge on pitch counts. With all the close observation on Wacha and Carlos Martinez in 2015, Lynn regularly throws 100 pitches in a start. 17 out of his 23 starts, Lynn has thrown 100 pitches. Lynn has thrown 115 or more pitches in a start six times. He’s old school. He lets his emotions fly and has learned to harness his rage and also craft a fine post game media game. While the beast may not be tamed on the field, Lynn has evolved over the five seasons in the Majors as a man and pitcher.
So, why can’t the man get the love from his fans? He doesn’t have the child like adorable phenom combo of Martinez He hasn’t had the playoff sensation of Wacha. He doesn’t have the Lackey experience. Unlike Garcia, Lynn needs to work harder for his outs. Any of these sound justified? Yes and no.
Last week, I was asked about a playoff rotation and my four man set didn’t include Lynn. You know how bad I felt and how incomplete it sounded. The rest of my day was thrown off. I wrestled with the idea. I kept asking myself, how can I leave Lance “The Motorized Fastball” Lynn out of my rotation? It’s either him or Martinez and realistically speaking, Lynn will be in the playoff rotation over Martinez. You never know. There’s five weeks left.
Here’s how much I do know. Don’t underestimate Lance Lynn. Appreciate him. He doesn’t make it look easy every time out but he defines the reason why “wins” are overrated in this game. His WAR(wins above replacement) sits at 2.3, which is above average. He has the ability to get outs without his defense. His salary in from 2014 to 2015 did rise from $535,000 to $7,000,000. There are expectations with Lynn there and it’s okay to judge and be critical of his poor outings. At this point in his career, he most likely won’t change much.
Just remember this. When it comes to Lance Lynn, one can’t forget about the big picture appeal of this Indiana product. It won’t be easy for Mike Matheny to leave him out of the playoff starting rotation hustle.