Last season started out with a bang for Saint Louis Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn, but ended with a bust after he was demoted to the bullpen in late summer.
Lynn was off to a terrific start in 2012 going 11-4 with a 3.41 prior to the All Star break. Lynn made the National League All Star squad, but by August, his ERA was out of control. He had a rough time in relief against the Washington Nationals in the Division Series but steadied the ship–somewhat–with two starts against the San Francisco Giants in the League Championship Series.
Nevertheless, Lynn had a very good season in 2012 which saw him throw 176 innings, win 18 games, and strike out 180 batters (3-1 K/BB ratio). Despite his derailment towards the end of the season, he finished with a respectable 3.78 ERA (3.49 FIP).
In 2013, Lynn has already shown signs of determination by coming to spring training 40 pounds lighter and completely aware of the fact that not just a front of the rotation spot, but a rotation spot period is his to lose.
Prior to his starting opportunity last season, where he filled in for the injured Chris Carpenter, Lynn has pitched 126.1 innings as a starter for Double-A Springfield in 2009 and 164 innings at Triple-A Memphis in 2010. For Springfield, he went 11-4 with a terrific 2.92 ERA and a 2-1 K/BB ratio which saw a late promotion to Memphis in ’09. The following year was a bit bumpier as Lynn saw his ERA balloon to 4.77 with Memphis despite winning 13 games and having a slightly higher strikeout rate.
Right now it’s clear that the ace of the staff is Adam Wainwright. It’s really anyone’s guess as to how the rest of the rotation will take form. It’s likely a given that both Jake Westbrook and Jamie Garcia will be settled somewhere, but where exactly will be up to how well Lynn can show he’s got the stuff to be a front-end guy. He’s got a great fastball that he mixes with a good curve, yet he’s prone to allow a few too many base-runners, as his slightly above average WHIP would indicate.
Right now, Lynn still may have some convincing to do as he’s pitched two innings this spring giving up four hits on two runs while striking out three hitters, which is a really silly sample size to even gauge. That being said, I’m betting we see Lynn backing up Waino come April.