The playoffs are a time where previous alliances are left behind and a new truce is set. Do whatever it takes to win the game is the idea. The St. Louis Cardinals chose to not go to Lance Lynn in the NLDS against the Cubs. The righty pitched one inning of action, taking over for Jaime Garcia and allowing a run.
He didn’t get the start in Game 2 even though Garcia was sick and he was passed over for John Lackey on three days rest in Game 4. Neither plan went well, as Garcia was shelled and Lackey gave up four runs in three innings. Neither plan had a good chance to working. This is where I want to crawl into the head of Lynn and wonder. Did the Cards burn a bridge with this guy in skipping over him?
Burning a bridge isn’t an over the top way to put it. They can be rebuilt over time but were the Cards justified in skipping Lynn against the Cubs. The North Siders had their way with Lynn but they also had their way with Michael Wacha, the game 3 starter who got shelled for four runs in four plus innings. If there was trepidation about Wacha’s abilities after a long season, why was Lynn shoved to the side?
If we are keeping score, Lynn was passed over by a…
*Mentally bruised lefty with a stomach virus
*Tired young arm.
*36 year old pitching on three days rest for the first in October in 10 years.
Does it all add up? If we go by a “what have you done lately” scenario, Lynn closed the 2015 season better than Wacha with three solid starts. In his last three starts, Lynn allowed a single earned run in 16 innings. Sure a little luck played a part in that final walk, but the stats back up the man here. Lynn had just as much merit for a postseason start as Wacha, a 2013 postseason hero who got lit up down the stretch(allowing 13 earned runs in his final 14 innings). Unlike Wacha, Lynn is a horse in this Cardinals rotation. Four straight years of 29 or more starts and 175+ innings. Shouldn’t that speak for something on the big stage?
Lynn is entering the second year of a three year, 21 million dollar deal. A final contract to buy up his arbitration before he truly cashes in. Where do John Mozeliak and Cards management stand on Lynn at the moment? Is he a trade piece? He has a team friendly contract and at 28 years of age, has plenty of ammo left. Like Matt Adams, I am getting the odd feeling that Lynn could be sitting on the trade market.
Personally, I wouldn’t want to see him go. He’s a bargain at seven million. For all the people who want the Cards to drop 160 million on David Price, don’t sleep on Lance. He’s a fine component to a rotation. Lynn gives you solid innings and kept his ERA and WHIP in check and was worth 3.4 wins above replacement to the Cards despite his struggles. Was he hurt down the stretch? Does he rely on his fastball too much? While both are logical questions, I think many under-appreciate Lynn’s value to the team.
For those who say he plummeted in 2015, they miss a few key stats. Lynn’s fielding independent pitching was an above average 3.44 and his ERA+(which factors the ballparks a pitcher throws in) was 131, way above average. Sure, he was my candidate to sit out if Carlos Martinez was healthy but for the people overvaluing Wacha’s 17 wins and placing him over Lynn for a postseason start, they are a bit off.
Lynn carries his emotions on his sleeve and won’t forget this dismissal. This isn’t like Shelby Miller getting shunned in 2013 after his first season. He didn’t have Lynn’s pedigree and durability. This is a whole new kind of beast. Something I want to see Lynn turn into a ferocious 2016 season in St. Louis. If he had a chip on his shoulder heading into the 2015 season, he has a stack resting there now.
I don’t think the Cardinals burned a bridge to Lance Lynn with their playoff decision, but the cheddar springs loving arm won’t soon forget what occurred this postseason. If he is smart, he’ll wear it like a badge of honor as he hustles towards that big payday.