Lance Lynn, RHP St. Louis Cardinals
Height: 6’5″ Weight: 250
Lance Lynn was drafted as a Supp Round pick in 2008 where he went #39 overall out of the University of Mississippi. Envisioned as a big framed workhorse by the Cardinals they signed him for $938,000 and send him to the NY Penn league and then quickly on to the Midwest League where he combined for a 1.35 ERA over 26.2 innings while striking out 29 and 5 walks.
In 2009, Lynn warmed up in the FSL for 15 innings where his K rate stayed high and then he was quickly promoted to Double-A Springfield for 22 starts over 126.1 good for an 11-4 record and 2.98 ERA. But the K rate dropped for the first time to sub-20% to 18.4% and the walk rate jumped to near 10%. His FIP of 3.55 is also telling of a less successful season than the raw numbers. But a successful second season none the less.
After getting a single start in Triple-A to close out the 2009 season, Lynn returned to Memphis in 2010, going 13-10 while his ERA ballooned to 4.77 which was supported by a 4.81 FIP. A certain step back and it was mainly because of a lack of command and decrease in velocity deeper into starts.
Again back in to Triple-A in 2011, he made 12 starts going 7-3 with a 3.84 ERA before finally getting called up to St. Louis to bolster the major league bullpen. His performance out of the pen made him quite a different prospect than he was once thought of. Suddenly he was a powerhouse RP. Enough so that he cracked into the Cards Top 10s and into the Baseball Instinct 360°:
217°. Lance Lynn, RHP, Cardinals, 5/12/1987 – Lynn can dial-up his 4 seam fastball to 97-98. Combined with his sinking 2 seam fastball that gets ground outs and hard curveball and he was very successful in the pen. He posted a 3.12 ERA and 40 K’s in 35 innings. Too soon to anoint him as the closer in waiting, but he probably has the most polished and stable stuff in the Cardinals bullpen. He should enjoy a long career as a reliever. ETA NOW.
Let’s take a little bit of a deeper look at Lynn as a SP because he seems to have gotten the inside edge in the Cardinals rotation due an injury to Chris Carpenter.
We mentioned that Lynn can work his fastball into the 98 mph range. That is coming out of the bullpen. Let’s be clear about that. As a RP its a weapon with hard ride. As a SP he works in the low 90s touching 93 with more of a sinker. Not near as dominant and the sink on it simply isn’t enough to make him a ground ball pitcher.
His curveball actually took a big leap forward last year and will be an above average pitch for him going forward. It’s a tight curve that will work better with his fastball out of the pen due to the separation in velocity. But it is still an upgraded offering than he worked with before 2011.
His changeup is an average offering at times and is going to be the pitch that will make or break him as a back end of the rotation starter. It won’t be a pitch he’ll need to lean on out of the pen. A main reason why his dominance jumped last year working in short stints.
Lynn has a clean delivery. He’s cut back on some of the less needed movement he had in the past. His step and drive is quick and he’s learned to use his large base to generate velocity. It simply works better out of the pen because hitters will have difficulty getting timing down on him in short looks.
There isn’t much of an issue with injury here to his arm. His mechanics are simple and he’s a beast.
Lynn has a chance to make it as a SP for the Cardinals this year. With his dominance in the bullpen last year and Shelby Miller knocking on the door for the 5th spot sooner rather than later, Lynn will have a short window.
His K rate has been passable in the minor leagues but his walk rate has not been. He needs to be more fine with his fastball when he’s working lower in the velocity range. If he can somehow hold onto some of the premium velocity in longer stints it could be a whole new ball game for him.
If not, he’ll end up back in the pen as a perfectly usable major league reliever.
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