On April 10th, Joe Strauss, columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, put forward an idea that could potentially save, pun intended, and potentially solve the Cardinals early season woes from the closer spot. In this column, Strauss suggested that the Cardinals could perhaps turn to Lance Lynn to save games should Mitchell Boggs, Trevor Rosenthal, and company not figure out a remedy for their early season malaise.
Despite somewhat scuffling in his last outing, which by the way was still a win, Lynn has been decent in his 3 starts this season. There were question marks about a potential sophomore slump as Lynn was beaten up in the Spring Training portion of the schedule while trying to find his proper mechanics after shedding weight this offseason. However, I feel this was a bit overblown, as many things tend to be these days. The simple fact is that Yadier Molina was playing ball for the Puerto Rican World Baseball Classic team, and wasn’t in camp to help line out Lynn’s mechanics with his watchful eye. It’s no coincidence that Lynn has been showing signs of improvement out of the gate, with Yadi back to coach him through his mechanical troubles directly related to his newfound flexibility.
So far this season, Lynn has posted a 2-0 record, 5.40 ERA, 17:7 strikeout to walk ratio over 15 innings pitched, and has allowed 17 hits, including 2 home runs, for a grand total of 9 earned runs. Do these stats scream closer to you? Undoubtedly, many fans remember the bullpen version of Lynn that helped the Cardinals win the World Series in 2011, but this is not the same Lynn.
Will moving Lynn back to the pen really help the Cardinals considering he has shown the tendency to give up runs in his first few starts of the season, or will the move simply disrupt Lynn’s routine as a starting pitcher and slow down his quest to return to form?
I tend to believe this move would be a mistake. He has shown signs that things are starting to click with Molina back helping him, as illustrated by the 17 strikeouts, and the ability to battle through innings while not necessarily having lights out stuff. However, disrupting his current routine could be more detrimental to the team long term because there isn’t a clear cut guy who can step in and back fill his vacant rotation spot. It’s a dangerous game to play because a misstep in selecting that 5th rotation back filler can cause a domino effect through the entire bullpen should that 5th man fail to absorb crucial innings.
In an AM radio interview this morning with The Ryan Kelley Morning After on 590 in St. Louis, GM John Mozeliak stated the following:
If things still aren’t working out by, for example, June, we would look internally and consider Lance Lynn as closer.
So, for the time being it appears the current bullpen men are going to be granted the opportunity to cure what ails them, and prove that they deserve the job without disrupting the starting rotation. Here’s hoping someone steps up and starts locking down more W’s for the Birds on the Bat.