Last week I spoke highly of St. Louis Cardinals starter Lance Lynn right before he threw a stinker against the Minnesota Twins. Two runs off five hits in 2.1 innings pitched is not something a number two starter should let happen too often in spring training.
Lynn’s previous outing against New York Mets on February 27th wasn’t much better.
Against the New York Yankees on March 11th, he wasn’t strong but he was sharp; the kind of start you’d want to see from your front rotation pitcher. Lynn mixed his pitches well and threw a lot of strikes. His WHIP was a spring-best 1.44; not great, but a big improvement. He basically only threw one bad pitch which Kevin Youkilis promptly blasted for a home run. Other than that, he kept the Yankee lineup in check.
With Jamie Garcia off to a great start this spring–1.80 ERA in 10 innings pitched, it will be up to Lynn to sharpen his skills to anchor the front of the rotation. Jake Westbrook isn’t having a strong showing so far this spring and neither of the guys competing for the last spot in the rotation has been particularly exciting.
Lynn is expected to get at least two more chances to improve despite being a lock for the rotation. Regardless of how well Garcia pitches in the coming weeks, there will still be a concern over potential shoulder issues. Westbrook can still pitch, but he has to give them more due to the uncertainty below him.
The Cardinals do have pitching options, but it would be best not to rush a youngster who’s not ready or disrupt what could be a great bullpen unless you really have to–meaning inserting Trevor Rosenthal, who should stay where he is–because we all saw how vulnerable the pen could be last year.
I’d like to see Lynn have at least one start where he can go six innings and not give up more than one earned run with a couple of strikeouts; the type of start that shows you he’s ready to pitch in the regular season.
And though you can’t hang your head over a bad spring you can’t hang your hat on a good one either. Things change very quickly come April so it’s best to be headed in the right direction.
The Cardinals hope Lynn continues to follow it.