Exit Interview: Lance Lynn

The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season.  This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason.  More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter.  Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.

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Player: Lance Lynn

Season stats: 15-10, 2.74 ERA, 33 games, 203.2 IP, 185 H, 72 BB, 181 K, 1.262 WHIP, 134 ERA+

Hero/Goat: Hero 10, Goat 4

Overall grade: A

Positives: Proving W-L record isn’t everything, had the exact same mark as in 2013, but with an ERA over a run lower….didn’t have a significant platoon split, limiting righties to a .635 OPS and lefties to a .697 mark….unlike some years, he got better in the second half, with a 2.22 ERA and a .228 batting average against.

Negatives: Struggled somewhat to start the year, posting a 3.60 ERA in April, though he went 4-1….had his worst ERA when he got two or less runs of support, putting up a 1-9 record with a 3.20 ERA in those situations….the first batter of the game hit .313/.333/.375 against him, which meant he often started in trouble….yeah, I know, I’m scraping for negatives.

Overview: On May 18, I wrote a post entitled “The Lynning: Fact or Fiction?”  After all, we’d seen it so many times, Lynn just falling apart in an inning.  It was part of his makeup, just what we had to deal with.

That’s what it seemed, at least.  After that post, Lynn began to be the dominant pitcher we’d seen before, but this time on a more consistent basis.  In those 24 starts, he had an ERA of 2.41, an OPS against of .654 and struck out 128 in just under 150 innings.  Only twice after that post did he have a “Lynning” (three or more runs in a frame) and none after June 28.  In fact, in that span, he only had six games where he gave up three or more!

The frustration folks had felt with Lynn for most of his career finally started to melt away.  He even had two good postseason starts and the second half fade of 2012 and 2013 was just a distant memory.  In fact, when Adam Wainwright dealt with his dead arm period, Lynn was the de facto #1 of this rotation, something nobody saw coming earlier in the year.

Outlook: Lynn has continued to improve each year and with a full year of quality pitching under his belt, there seems to be no reason to think that he won’t be able to approach these levels on a regular basis.  Lynn is arbitration eligible, but I would expect the club will follow their precedent and offer Lynn a long-term deal to stay in Cardinal red.  In any case, he should be backing up Wainwright in the rotation for 2015 and hopefully continuing to relieve the angst Cardinal Nation sometimes has toward him.

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