Lance Lynn‘s success with the St. Louis Cardinals this season is no fluke. It was only a matter of time for the former first round draft pick.
When nobody knew what was going on with Chris Carpenter during spring training, it was up to the second year pitcher to fill the void in the starting rotation. Nobody really knew what was to be expected of Lynn. Lynn has showed up to pitch in all six outings this season, much to the opponents’ dismay.
In six starts this season, Lynn is 6-0 with a remarkable 1.40 ERA. Not only that but Lynn is the first pitcher to start a season 6-0 for a defending World Series champion since Randy Johnson did so in 2002. Moreover, with Monday night’s win, Lynn became the first Cardinal pitcher to start a season 6-0 since Bob Tewksbury did so in 1994!
“It’s good. We’re winning games when I’m on the mound, that’s all that matters,” Lynn told reporters after Monday night’s game. “That’s what I’m here to do, help the team win. I’m getting a lot of help. I just hope I keep improving every time out.”
A product of Brownsburg High School in Brownsburg, Indiana, the right-handed pitcher was drafted out of high school in 2005 by the Seattle Mariners in the 6th round. Despite being a sixth-round pick coming out of high school, Lynn opted to continue his education and head down to Oxford, Mississippi, where he attended for three years. While at Ole Miss, Lynn pitched for 3 NCAA Tournament teams, including the 2006 team that won the SEC Baseball tournament. Looking at the Old Miss media guide, Lynn finished his career leading the school in strikeouts with 332. His 2007 single-season record of 146 still stands as the best all-time in school history. While at Ole Miss, Lynn played with Reds infielder Zach Cozart for two seasons (2006-07).
The Ole Miss Rebels head coach, Mike Bianco, is very proud to see the Rebel alumnus doing well in the majors. Most coaches are–Bianco is no exception–proud of their former student-athletes. In an email exchange with coach Bianco he stated:
“Obviously, we’re very proud of everything Lance has accomplished to this point in his career and getting off to such a great start for the Cardinals,” Bianco said. “He was a tremendous pitcher for us here at Ole Miss, but you never know when they get to professional baseball because it can be such a long road to the Major Leagues. But if anyone could do it, it would be Lance.”
Bianco is not the only one singing the praises of Lance Lynn.
“Very impressed,” Fox Sports Midwest play-by-play broadcaster Dan McLaughlin told me in reference to Lynn’s success over the first month of the season. “He’s been one of the better pitchers in the league. It’s always fun to watch young players emerge. He showed us flashes of brilliance last year and it has carried over to this season. He knows he belongs in the big leagues and he’s proving it to everyone.”
What fans are seeing this season is the reason why he was drafted by the Cardinals with the 39th draft pick in the first round, albeit a supplementary pick to make up for the loss of Troy Percival. It’s interesting to read the draft report on Lynn a few years later.
Lacking great pure stuff, Lynn is a level behind the elite college arms in this Draft class. But he makes the most out of his average offerings with excellent command, a knowledge of how to pitch and a real competitive streak on the mound. He’s done a good job of maintaining his weight this year and will have to continue to do so as a pro. He won’t wow you, but he’s the type who could be a solid innings-eater who presumably won’t take long to be big-league ready.
Lynn was ranked the #3 Cardinals prospect by Baseball America in 2010 and the #6 prospect in 2011. Despite that, Lynn was never able to crack the top 100 overall prospects during any year that he was in the minors. It no longer matters. He’s playing for the Cardinals and should be for some time to come.