Lance Lynn is better than expected for struggling Cardinals

Lance Lynn is eating innings for the Cardinals and saving the bullpen.
Miami Marlins v St. Louis Cardinals
Miami Marlins v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages

Lance Lynn earned his first victory since his return to the St. Louis Cardinals last week. Lynn pitched a season-high seven innings and was the bulldog the Cardinals needed him to be. It was enough to make fans realize this was the performance he signed this offseason to do.

Fans have been perplexed since John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, signed Lynn to a one-year deal this offseason. The promise, however, was to bring in "pitching, pitching, pitching" to help the Cardinals into the future.

Now 1-0, Lynn has pitched 16.2 innings over three starts for the Cardinals. He's given up 14 hits and eight runs, including five earned and four home runs. He's given up six walks while striking out 14 batters. He only struck out one batter on Tuesday but did induce eight swing-and-miss pitches that were spectacular to see.

Lynn's worst start came during the St. Louis home opener against the Miami Marlins. In 4.2 innings, Lynn gave up eight hits and four earned runs, including three home runs. He struck out seven batters and had 14 swing-and-miss pitches. The Cardinals ended up winning the home opener 8-5.

While fans had a list of former Cardinals they would have rather seen return to wear the Birds on the Bat again, Lynn was only at the top of that list if sarcasm was involved. Lynn struggled at the end of his 2023 season, making him unnoticeable to most Cardinals fans.

Fans have reacclimated to Lynn's demeanor and seem to have warmed up to the intensity the grizzled competitor brings to the mound. While this attitude was there when he was first with the Cardinals, it's safe to say it was tempered while Tony LaRussa and Mike Matheny were managers. Now a veteran, it's safe to say the whole Lance Lynn experience has been unleashed. Fans can see Cardinal Hall of Famer Chris Carpenter's influence on him but with an added edge.

While Lynn is older and will have his struggles from start to start, it will be great to have a competitor like Lynn to fill the gap for youngsters developing in the minor league system. Lynn could have the same impact on the younger pitchers that Carpenter and Adam Wainwright had on him.

Drew Rom is on the injured list with left shoulder-biceps tendonitis. Sem Robeberse, Adam Kloffenstein, and Tekoah Roby joined a group of minor league arms, including Tink Hence, Cooper Hjerpe, Gordon Graceffo, and Mike McGreevy, who could impact the Cardinals' rotation in the future. Lynn, Kyle Gibson, Miles Mikolas, and Steven Matz appear to be a rotation that will serve as a bridge to the future.

While it is a bit frustrating to consider after the 2023 season, Mozeliak did say he wanted to build toward the future with moves he would make in the offseason. Lynn and Gibson were the right pitchers to pair with Gray, who will be an ace that can lead the rotation into the future. Fans must remain patient that these pitchers, paired with a better-performing version of the current offense, will return a better product.

It will be challenging after the 2023 season. Cardinals fans are used to winning now. While the culture of winning is returning, it won't be instant.