A Roaring Lyons


Tyler Lyons made his Major League Baseball debut on Wednesday night for the Redbirds, and it was a smashing success.   The southpaw from Lubbock, Texas showed the St. Louis Cardinals’ faithful and the rest of the baseball world that he was ready for The Show.  Let’s take a little deeper look into the Redbird’s newest starter, seeing as how he may be around a while with the injuries to Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia.

Tyler Lyons started his journey to the bigs in Lubbock at Frenship High School, and turned his sights towards Oklahoma State University in 2008.  While there, he was a 4-year starter, and even had the privilege of playing for Team USA in the FISU World Championships.  In those 24 games, he appeared in 11, and did not yield a run.

Mar 8, 2013; Melbourne, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Tyler Lyons (70) against the Washington Nationals during a spring training game at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees took interest in Lyons in 2009 while the lefty still had a year of eligibility left.  A 10th round selection was not enticing enough to coax him out of school, and he returned for his senior season.  Following the season, he was drafted a round earlier than the previous year by your very own St. Louis Cardinals.  He failed to sign before the league year started for the minors, so he had to wait his turn to showcase his wares until the 2011 season.

In 2011, Tyler Lyons pitched for the for the Palm Beach Cardinals.  With his share of ups and downs, Lyons was mostly consistent, putting up a 4.50 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 94 innings of work.  He had a very low HR rate, as he mostly kept the ball on the ground, and his K/BB ratio was great.  Lyons only allowed 29 free passes on the season.  One thing of note was his August 8, 2011 no-hitter; the very first in the history of the Cardinals Florida league.

In 2012, Lyons moved up in the ranks, splitting time between Double-A Springfield and the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.  His ERA lowered to 4.13 in 152.2 innings of work between the two clubs.  143 strikeouts gave him an 8.4 strikeout per 9 innings rate.

Earlier this season, in his first 46 innings of work, Lyons saw his ERA jump a bit against stiffer competition.  It stood at 4.47 before his call-up.  His 38 strikeouts versus just 9 walks was perhaps his most impressive stat.

Last night brought about his first ever major league experience.  A bit of an unknown, Tyler Lyons seemed to me just someone who was getting in the way of the much more flashy, supposed sure thing, and St. Louis Cardinals current top 5 prospect Michael Wacha.  However, after a night of 7 innings of work, on just 81 pitches, I was thoroughly impressed.

Inning 1 included a Chris Denorfia fly out, Everth Cabrera ground out, a Chase Headley single, and a strikeout of Jesus Guzman.  The strikeout of Guzman really turned my head.  It was on a perfectly placed 2-2 count 82 MPH slider that ran in on Guzman’s hands.  The second inning was much the same, a single following 2 outs, and a flyout to end the inning.  In the third inning, Lyons got his second strikeout, and allowed his third base runner of the evening.  Denorfia was quickly erased though, on an Everth Cabrera lineout that turned into a double play.

Three straight groundouts were the story in the 4th inning.  It wasn’t until the 5th that the San Diego Padres saw a runner reach past first base.  Tim Stauffer grounded out though, and the threat was quickly over.  A fielding error allowed Chase Headley to reach, but that was the highlight of the inning for the Fathers.

The lone run Lyons allowed on the night was leading off the 7th inning.  Rookie Jedd Gyorko hit his 5th homerun of the season to center field.  3 quick outs followed, and that was that for Tyler Lyons.  I’d say a wildly successful first start for him.  Any hint of a rally was quickly squelched, any hit quickly followed by an out, any imperfection followed by steady, calm, strikes.

The final line for our newest St. Louis Cardinals starter was 7 innings, 4 hits, 1 ER, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, and a final ERA of just 1.29.  53 of Lyons’ 81 pitches were strikes, and I’m sure that percentage will only improve as he gets even more comfortable.  Though his fastball isn’t the fastest in the world (mostly 88-90 on the night), his slider looked about as good as C.C. Sabathia when he’s on his A-game.

It remains to be seen exactly what Tyler Lyons we will see for the remainder of his time in the bigs, but this was certainly a good start!