Breaking down the hot start of Cardinals’ Lance Lynn


It’s easy to overlook the impressive start to the 2015 season turned in by St. Louis Cardinals’ right-hander Lance Lynn when you have Michael Wacha set to gun for 7-0 this weekend against Kansas City.

With all the media hoopla surrounding the pit of despair the Cards’ staff is dancing precipitously around after losing Adam Wainwright earlier this season and the questionable back-end options filling the void, a casual fan would never know that St. Louis has one of the best one-two combos in the National League.

Lynn has emerged as a legitimate number two option for manager Mike Matheny this season, building upon another solid season in 2014. Last year, the 28-year-old righty pitched to the same 15-10 mark he had in 2013, but lowered his earned run average from 3.97 to 2.74 in the process.

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Part of that – well, really a large part of it – was due to a strong defense on the field behind him, as his FIP hardly moved at all between the two seasons (3.28 to 3.35). That, coupled with comparable strikeout and walk tallies led to Lynn double-digit games for the third-consecutive season.

This season, the former first-round pick of the Cardinals has been lights-out. Maybe he hasn’t run the tables like his rotation mate Wacha has, but he enters Friday night’s contest against the Royals with an impressive 2.96 earned run average – something that is only made more encouraging by his even-better 2.33 FIP.

His record doesn’t turn any heads – nor should it. But, as we’ve all come to learn in recent years, a pitcher’s win-loss record is hardly indicative of just how capable he is on the mound at the big league level.

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Lynn is averaging a career-best 10.7 strikeouts per nine this year in his eight starts spanning 48 2/3 innings, and is flirting with a personal best in walks per nine, as well. It’s become clear that his recent success is not a fluke and he is a force to be reckoned with in the Cardinals’ rotation.

St. Louis, meanwhile, is riding high on the backs of Wacha, Lynn and veteran John Lackey, who have combined to go 11-5 with a 2.68 earned run average in their 24 starts. Heading into the weekend series with the Royals, the Cardinals are clinging to a three-game lead in the National League Central that has dissipated over the course of the last month with the Chicago Cubs playing better ball.

Whether the Cardinals are in first or last (which, let’s be honest, rarely happens outside of the season’s first week), Lance Lynn brings his ‘A-game’ each and every time he sets foot on the mound.

He’s pitched at least six innings in all but two of his starts and has allowed more than two runs just twice – so while Michael Wacha reaps the praise, keep an eye on Lynn as the season passes the quarter-pole.

Next: Cardinals shut out by Mets in series finale