Cardinals' get best start of their season from Lance Lynn but it's spoiled by rain

Lance Lynn was griding on the mound to the tune of a scoreless outing against the Dodgers before the weather rained on his parade.

Mar 30, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn (31)
Mar 30, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn (31) / Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
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The St. Louis Cardinals were finally getting a really nice start from their rotation against the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers, but the weather had other plans.

It definitely wasn't pretty, but Lynn navigated multiple jams, the biggest of which came in the very first inning. After giving up three straight singles to Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, and Freddie Freeman to load the bases with no outs, Lynn struck out the next three batters to strand all three former MVPs on base.

That's such an odd sentence to write. "Strang all three former MVPs on base", is this the All-Star Game or something?

The game went into a rain delay following the fourth inning, and Oli Marmol decided not to bring Lynn back into the game after the over forty-minute delay. Lynn's night finished with four innings and zero runs allowed on four hits, one walk, and five strikeouts. Again, it wasn't pretty, but against that Dodgers lineup, coming away unscathed is all you can possibly ask for.

While Kyle Gibson and Miles Mikolas won't wow anyone with their stuff as innings eaters, the intrigue I have had with the addition of Lynn is his ability to step up in big moments like this. The 2023 season was rough for the 36-year-old, but in the four seasons prior to that, had a 3.42 ERA, 134 ERA+, and 10.0 K/9 while averaging 162 innings in the three full seasons (2020 was the pandemic-shortened year). Lynn finished top-6 in American League Cy Young voting three of those four seasons, finishing as high as third place in 2021.

No one is expecting him to be that good in 2024, but the hope was that if he could cut down on his league-high 44 home runs allowed from last season (his previous career-high allowed was 27), he could be far better than the 5.73 ERA he carried in 2023.

One of the biggest frustrations with the Cardinals' rotation in 2023 (and for the first two games of 2024) has been its inability to stop the bleeding early in games. Too often, their starters would allow a crooked number in the first inning, and end up getting knocked out of the game before the completion of the fourth or fifth inning while allowing 5+ earned runs. Grit was not a strong suit of this team, and yet, Lynn was full of it on Saturday night.

As I've said with the bad Cardinal performances on Thursday and Friday, the same needs to be said about Lynn's encouraging performance on Saturday - it's far too early to draw real conclusions about what this means for the 2024 season. Frankly, the Cardinals could have swept the Dodgers this weekend or gotten swept by them, and my opinion would not have changed. While the club got in major trouble for asking for patience in 2023, there is a bit of truth to it.

In a 162-game season, three-game sample sizes tell 0.018% of the story of the 2024 campaign. Sure, the Dodgers series could end up being a microcosm of the Cardinals' season, but declaring who the Cardinals are after three games against a potentially historically great team is a bit of an overreaction, and so would saying "Lance Lynn is back".

Regardless, I've got to admit, it was really fun watching Lynn and his persona on the mound again for St. Louis, and I hope this is the version we get to see all year long. Time will tell!

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