In participation with the United Cardinal Bloggers February interactive roundtable project, we asked the question:
The consensus: bloggers hope Lynn won’t be hurt by his weight loss and that he can be consistently effective, produce 170 to 200 innings pitched and win in double figures.
Here are the answers from the bloggers:
Simple, Lance Lynn needs to pitch more innings. The Cardinals asked him to get in better shape, and Lynn obliged. Now Lynn must deliver a solid 200-plus-inning season to not only replace the lost innings of Kyle Lohse, but to relieve pressure on a bullpen that may be exposed with the uncertainty and lack of durability of Jaime Garcia. Not to mention, the fifth spot in the rotation will likely be manned by a virtual rookie.
For the sake of predicting a stat line, I could see Lynn going 15-11 with a 3.72 ERA while compiling the needed 200 innings.
_ Corey Rudd, StlSportsMinute.com
I am onboard with Corey here. I expect more innings and a bit of a “sophomore slump.” 190 innings while going 14-10 is my prediction. Also, note that I would be satisfied with that from Lynn.
A thinner Lynn is hopefully something that yields improvement. Corey and I talked about this on last week’s UCBRH Podcast, and I’ll reiterate it here: The assumption in our society is that losing weight is a positive thing in every way. Guys like Pablo Sandoval and David Wells aren’t so quick to agree. The Panda came into camp lighter a year or two ago, and couldn’t hit water if he’d fallen out of a boat for the first part of the season. As the additional pounds started to come back, so did the production the Giants were looking for.
I’m hopeful that the slimmed-down Lynn performs similar to the slimmed-down Westbrook we saw when he came to camp a bit lighter. Hopefully Lynn is able to get similar velocity on the fastball to help set the other pitches up, and doesn’t lose his legs/stamina over the course of a season. His experience level lends itself to question marks surrounding performance at varying weights, and it’d be a shame to see a seemingly healthy, fit Lynn start to sputter come August.
I’m hopeful that he can hit the 200 innings plateau, and if he stays healthy all year, there’s no reason he can’t approach that 215-220 range. For me, it’s more about getting through the 6th consistently. If he can make his 32 starts this year, and get through the 6th in 25 of those, I’ll be satisfied.
_ Dathan Brooks, CRPS
My expectations are mixed. I see that he reported to camp lighter than last season. Will fatigue be a factor this season? Which version shows up? The one from the first half, second half, or postseason? If it is the one that pitched during the second half or postseason, it will be something to be worried about.
_ Daniel Solzman
As long as Lynn isn’t Kent Bottenfield (hat tip to Mr. Ivie for that name being thrown out on Twitter a couple of weeks ago), I think we’ll be fine. Like most have said, 18 wins is likely to be Lynn’s career high and expecting him to reach that again is pretty insane. I do want to see him go deeper, but the biggest test of Lynn’s season might be at the beginning. If he’s struggling in April or May, you have to wonder if last year’s slide had more to do with hitters adjusting to him than fatigue.
Long way of saying I expect Lynn to be in the rotation all year, to post an ERA around 3.75 or so, and probably tally 13-14 wins. Though as I write that, I’m wondering if that’s a bit too optimistic.
_ Daniel Shoptaw, C70 At The Bat
Lynn is in an interesting position. After his performance last season, combined with his pride and a competitive demeanor so tough that even Carpenter remarked on it last year, anything less than the same success this season is going to frustrate him. When Lynn got frustrated in 2012, things got unpredictable. Unfortunately for him, I expect him to be less effective in 2013 – albeit still successful – than he was in the first half of 2012. Hitters will adjust to him, blah, blah, blah.
The good news for Lynn and the team this year is that Lynn’s ultimate goal should be to rack up innings – not make another ASG team. As others have already mentioned, with Lohse gone, Carpenter out, Garcia “iffy,” and a young arm throwing an MLB innings load for the first time, Lynn is going to have to shoulder more starts and innings than last season to fill the void and save the ‘pen.
To do that, he’s going to have to learn to pace himself from start to start – develop a more consistent, in-control mental presence on the mound – as well as redefine, just a bit, what “success” looks like for him this season. You may see a lot of conversations with the coaching staff as well as Westbrook and Waino to help him settle into his spot in the rotation. Otherwise, I’m afraid he’ll expect to win the Cy Young in just his second season of work. If they can’t rein him in a bit and help him take that next step in his development as a big league pitcher…he could end up injuring himself.
Also, as Dathan pointed out, I’m in “wait and see” mode regarding his weight. I don’t like so drastic a change in body type after an All-Star season for a young player. He needs to prove he can be just as consistently effective at his new weight as he was at his old. Oh … and it sure would be nice to see him hold onto his rotation spot all year, too.
_ Kevin Reynolds, www.stlcardsnstuff.com
I’ll continue to get off the tracks a little bit here. I agree with Dathan that the weight thing is often a red herring. If speed has been a major challenge, weighing less obviously helps. But if you’re struggling at the plate, it doesn’t mean squat. There are plenty of heavy pitchers that pitch well, too. Outside of fielding your position, I don’t see where it makes much difference.
Having said all of that, I see Lynn at 14 wins this year, barring injury. It’s an unrealistic assumption that he will post numbers like last year. It isn’t fair to him or the team to expect that. He struggled late last year, and while I think the difference will be less stark this year, he’s still ramping up for full time starter duty, so I would expect a smaller drop off this year as well. I have to wonder whether he’s going to have to drop a couple MPH of that fastball to gain the longevity that we’re looking for from him.
I will be content if he simply stays consistent and healthy throughout the season, without a huge decline in the second half.
_ Wes Keene
Lance Lynn is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. If he traded fat for muscle over the off season, then one would expect him to improve his stamina and have a better overall year (or at least more consistent). But, as others have said, how much of his second half drop off was due to stamina and how much was the league catching up with him?
In addition, was his second half really that bad? During the second half, he had a 4.09 ERA as a starter. But, he had a good month (2.63 ERA in July), followed by a bad month (6.66 ERA in August), followed by a strong September (2.76).
Thus, the main thing I’m looking for from Lynn in 2013 is consistency. Not too high and not too low. If his monthly ERA is below 4.25 each month, I would be happy. If he can do that and pitch over 200 innings, he will have had a successful season, no matter what his final win total says.
I need to see him before I can judge what impact the weight could (if at all) have a change in his velo. I maintained last year that his lack of a consistent second pitch was just as much to blame for his struggles as him hitting “the wall”. We watched Wainwright pitch through struggles with his primary pitch for an entire half last year because he had a secondary one to lean on. Lance needs to find that, and evolve that slider from a once a frame, reliever-style out pitch, to a consistent one he balance off of for days where the heat isn’t there.
As for predictions, yes, last year will be outlier for him. 18 wins may not happen again, but he has to win at least 14 for the team to survive. He’s the de facto No. 2 on the team, and although that’s a bit overplayed for where he should be for the majority of his career (which is a solid 3, or a 4 in a very good rotation), it’s what he has to be this year. He’s struck out 9.3 per nine in his career, and he could stay in that range again. But pitch count improvement is a must for him.
Let’s be careful not to assume too much sophomore slumping though; this is his third year and I’m counting that second half of last year as that for him. This is year three, and it’s time to see what it’s going to be with him, moving ahead.
_ Matt Whitener
Lynn will build on his solid 2012 and find ways to avoid the physical burnout he experienced a year ago. He’s clearly exhibited better stuff than scouts believed he had, and he can miss bats. Everything is still there for him to be a three starter, so it’s just a matter of keeping his conditioning in check and making smart pitches. I didn’t think this until last season, but it’s totally possible Lynn becomes a real part of the team’s long-term future.
I’ll predict peripherals a tad better than last season’s, and I’ll refrain from predicting wins and losses since that’s kind of the baseball equivalent to predicting how many raindrops will personally strike me in 2013.
_ Brian Vaughan, StanGraphs
We can all agree that Lynn will not put up 2012 numbers this season. I think the weight issue is interesting. It’s rare that we could be concerned about a player losing too much weight. I don’t think this is the issue with Lynn, the weight loss can only help. I love seeing the projections for Lynn. I will throw out there some “professional” projections.
RotoChamp – 9-7 with a 3.66 ERA in 145 IP
RazzSteamer – 12-8 with a 3.81 ERA in 164 IP
FanGraphs – 12-8 with a 3.70 ERA in 170 IP
CAIRO – 10-7 with a 3.82 ERA in 148 IP
You can see these are way below 2012 numbers. I am hoping for 200 innings, but that looks like a stretch.
I will throw a “bold” prediction out there and say that Lynn will lose his starting spot fairly early in 2013. Rosenthal will be dominant out of the bullpen and will replace Lynn in the rotation. I think a big sophomore slump is in the works.
_ John Nagel, CardinalsFarm.com
Lance has to be very careful this year. He’s built himself up to something pretty special in his own mind. After falling off a cliff in the second half last season, then following that with mental errors that cost the Cardinals dearly in the postseason, he’s in no position to be put off by anyone suggesting he has to actually *gasp* earn his spot in the rotation. With Carpenter out, that spot certainly looks more like it’s his for the taking, but he’s by no means out of reach of Miller, Rosenthal, or Kelly. And, he better use the new physique to help stretch his innings count.
As for my expectations? I’d like to think the commitment to his “lifestyle change” is a sign of good things to come. But I won’t pretend I don’t worry about the mental side of his game and how easily he can be shaken. I expect him to get a fair shot in the rotation, but I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t go as well as he seems to believe it will. I also don’t expect a blazing start like we saw last year.
I’d love 18 wins from him, but I would be happy with 15 wins … and 200 innings would be great. But more than that, I’d just like him to pitch consistently for an entire year, and accept the role he best fits into to help this team get back to October baseball.
_ Tara Wellman, Aaron Miles’ Fastball
When I first read this question my mind immediately went to innings pitched for some reason. I guess it’s a statistic I enjoy using to gauge a pitcher’s overall body of work for a season. Last season he pitched 176 innings in his first full season in STL. I know a lot of people like the 200-inning mark as a sign of real success but keep in mind only 31 pitchers hit that mark in all of MLB in the 2012 regular season.
One of those pitchers was Kyle Lohse, who logged 211. I did a quick side by side on their advanced metrics to see if the numbers told a story and the two things that jumped were BABIP and BB/9.
BABIP Lynn: .321 Lohse .262 and BB/9: Lynn: 3.27 Lohse: 1.62.
This is speculation to go along with memory of games watched but the combination tells me that the more veteran Lohse was able to get ahead in counts with good command and forced hitters to hit his pitch. Also very limited free passes from Kyle. Now with Lance it could have been confidence, fatigue, knowledge, anyone’s guess but I just wanted to point this out before my expectation part of the answer. Some say BABIP has a good amount of luck, but if you look at Lohse’s career progression you’ll see that his BABIP and BB/9 have steadily declined as he’s become the solid pitcher we saw last season. MLB hitters hit mistakes hard and also hit pitches hard if they know what’s coming (ahead in the count etc). Pitchers pitch and throwers get hit hard as starters. I’m sure someone more saber-inclined could give a better comparison of these statistics than myself.
Lance showed up to camp obviously in better shape, which I guess tells me as a fan he’s committed to the process which I’m assuming he was highly advised to shed some lbs for better or worse. More of a hope than an expectation but if he can get the walks down and has worked on some of his secondary pitches allowing him to get ahead in counts with quality pitches then the results should come. He’s got the stuff. Bill James has 185 innings as his projection and for me that would be swell along with improvements on the two mentioned metrics which will hopefully help yield solid results.
_ Dustin McClure
Great question, Mark. Lance Lynn is the new Kyle Lohse, the guy who will reluctantly beat everybody’s expectations. He’s done that throughout his minor league career and will continue to do so with the big club. I like that he showed up in camp much leaner, indicating that he’s engaged with the program.
Like many others have suggested, something in the 13-15 win side (I’ll take the high side of that) would be a good season for the young man. How about 15-10 with an ERA just under 4. I also think he’ll go 180+ innings, meaning he makes all of his starts and most of them are of the dubious “quality” variety.
I am still amazed that more fans aren’t on the Lynn bandwagon. The guy was sensational last year and just had a couple of bad spells. The only pitcher better was Kyle Lohse, and that will send some heads spinning :-)
Lynn is going to turn into a most valuable workhorse. He will be to Adam Wainwright what Danny Cox was to Joaquin Andujar.
_ Bob Netherton