I was trolling twitter for ideas, as I wanted something I could turn into a post realtively quickly then saved for this morning, then I saw this:
Is Lance Lynn an elite starting pitcher?
— High Sock Sunday (@HighSock_Sunday) September 16, 2014
First thanks to HighSock Sunday for the idea.
This was extremely relevant last night, as Lynn was pitching. He tossed a gem too, allowing only one run in seven innings and probably could’ve gone at least one more, but Matheny just *had* to go to his bullpen. Pat Neshek was fine, but Trevor Rosenthal screwed it up again, and we lost. I’ll stop ranting now before I end up writing 50,000 words on Trevor’s incompetence and Matheny’s “He’s our closer” stubbornness.
Back to the post’s main topic.
So, is Lance Lynn elite?
Well, while he has the wins the last few years, with 18 in 2012 and 15 last year and 15 so far this year, but as we all know, wins are a superficial stat.
Let’s take a look at his ERA, FIP and WHIP for the past three years.
ERA FIP WHIP
2012 3.78 3.49 1.318
2013 3.97 3.28 1.314
2014 2.68 3.18 1.257
In 2012 and 2013 he was a solid starter, but he had ERA’s close to 4, so he his good records were at least partly due to decent run support. This year. however, his ERA is 2.68, and it has gotten better as the season has gone along. If Waino has a bad start in his last few outings and Lynn continues his excellence, you may be looking at our ERA champ for the season.
As you can see by his WHIP, he’s made steady progress the few years. He’s also been increasingly stingy with his home runs. The solo shot he allowed last night, if I remember correctly, was only his 9th home run allowed this year. In fact he leads the league in HR/9 ratio with an 0.4. in 2012 his ratio was 0.8 while last year it was 0.6, so there’s a steady progression there too.
Add it all up and you get a pitcher with a 3.7 WAR, easily his career high (his previous best was 2.2) If he continues his upward trend, he’ll end up with 4 WAR. The only pitcher with a higher WAR on this team is Adam Wainwright with 5.2.
How does he do it? Well before I get to the data, I’ll tell you what I saw last night as I watched the game: A guy who pounds the zone. I didn’t see him throw many chase pitches, just pound, pound, pound. And it worked well for him as he allowed only one walk and five hits.
Now for the pitches he uses:
He relies mainly on his fastballs, the four seamer, which averages 94 MPH, and his sinker, which averages 92 MPH. This matches what I saw last night, as he just kept pounding the zone with his two heaters. He also mixes in a Cutter and a Curve, while rarely tossing a Changeup and a Slider.
I think his improvement is for real, as it’s part of a steady progression, as his WHIP and HR ratio show. I think he’ll maintain or least stay close to this level of production and slot in nicely as our number two pitcher behind Waino for the next few years.
As always thanks for reading.