posted on July 05, 2012 14:34
…But it appears the breakdown of Lance Lynn has begun.
After a torrid stretch of dominance to start the season, the innings appear to be wearing on the former reliever, as he has been roughed up considerably in his last three starts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not happy about this unfortunate turn of events, but I did see it coming. And it wouldn’t surprise me if the downfall becomes a continuing trend for the remainder of the season.
Lynn has currently thrown 97 innings this season. He managed just 109.2 all of last year (majors and minors combined). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where I’m going with this. The wear and tear on Lynn’s arm is catching up to him and he just doesn’t have the seasoning and endurance to withstand a full major league season as a starter. Especially considering he spent 2011 either in the bullpen or on the disabled list.
Yes, Lynn is a very talented pitcher, and making him a starter is not necessarily a bad idea moving forward, but to expect him to keep up his exceptional performance from the first two months of the season is folly. He simply doesn’t have the stamina in his pitching arm to give the Cardinals what they desperately need this year: 200 innings from the top three in the rotation. In fact, with his recent regression on the mound – having not even thrown 100 innings yet – he likely won’t get anywhere close to that magic number.
It may take a couple offseasons of being stretched out and some rigorous workout regiments to get Lynn “starter” ready. When that happens he could be a valuable piece of the rotation moving forward, but to count on him doing much more this year seems a bit overzealous. The stats tell the story of his decline.
With four outings in April, Lynn allowed just one earned run in each, amassed three quality starts and fanned 24 against just six walks in 27 innings. He won all four games and owned an ERA of 1.33, a WHIP of 0.81 and batters were hitting just .176 against him.
May rolled around and Lynn was still good, but not nearly as dominant. He managed four quality starts in his six outings and wound up with a record of 4-1 for the month, but his ERA in May was a much more human 3.44, his WHIP was a pedestrian 1.25 and hitters were batting .236 against him. His walks also rose to 14 in 36.2 innings. On the bright side, he allowed just one homerun and he managed to go at least six innings in all but one of his starts.
Then in June when the weather got hot, Lynn got cold. In his six starts he managed just two quality outings, wound up with a losing record of 2-3 and only managed to go six or more innings two times. His ERA for the month was 5.67 with a 1.59 WHIP and opponents were hitting .287 against him. He walked 14 in 33.1 innings, allowed five homeruns and gave up 39 total hits. Now, a lot of that damage was done in his last three starts where he gave up five, six and six earned runs respectively and never lasted more that 5.1 innings.
It’s pretty clear that his stamina is becoming an issue, not just in the ugly numbers that he’s been putting up on the scorecard recently, but his velocity is down and he’s having trouble locating. Both are blatant signs of fatigue and were major contributors to his spike in ERA, WHIP and BAA. It’s also not likely that this is something that will rectify itself. In other words, things are probably going to get worse before they get better. And better likely won’t come until next season.
Lance Lynn is an exciting pitcher and an intriguing talent, but the gist of it is that he likely just doesn’t have enough left in his right arm to be legitimate contributor for the remainder of the season. That’s bad news for a club that desperately needs starting pitching, and comes on the heels of finding out that Chris Carpenter won’t pitch at all this season (shocker). Once again the medical staff’s wait and see approach has doomed the Cardinals. Had Carp just had the surgery during spring training when it was obvious to most of the baseball world that he should, he’d likely be pitching now instead of getting ready to go under the knife.
My suggestion: send a package of Matt Adams, Tyler Greene and a player to be named later for Brandon McCarthy of the Oakland A’s. That would shore up the rotation in a hurry. Somebody get Billy Beane on the phone.