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Report From The Fort: Learning About Lance Lynn

FT. MYERS – Tuesday was Lance Lynn Day at Hammond Stadium. The newly signed starter was formally introduced during a morning press conference, and took the hill to make his Twins debut about two hours later.

What did we learn about Minnesota’s latest acquisition during a busy first official day with the club?
"I'm just looking forward to pitching," Lynn said when kicking off his presser, adding that he'd been prepping for the occasion with live bullpens and sim games. Luckily he didn't have to wait long.

Despite getting a late start to spring camp, the 30-year-old exhibited no signs of rust in a masterful Grapefruit League debut against the Orioles. He pounded the zone and on multiple occasions his fastball touched 94 MPH, a number rarely seen on the Hammond scoreboard this month.

Lynn opened his outing with a pair of swinging strikeouts and wound up hanging K's on half of the 10 Baltimore batters he faced in three near-perfect innings.

"I walked a guy, so that sucked," Lynn said with a smirk afterwards. "Other than that everything was about as smooth as possible."

His new manager thought so too. Paul Molitor summarized the performance in one word: "Attack."

"You're not sure how sharp his command was going to be, but he poured it in there pretty good and he just kept throwing it."

Here are some of the key takeaways I distilled from talking to Lynn and others around the park.

He’s a Notoriously Intense Competitor

This is a reputation Lynn brings over from his days in St. Louis. He’s well known as a player who likes to win and – even more so – hates to lose.

He has a fiery presence on the mound and is expressive when frustrated. "You wanna get out of his way," said Derek Falvey.

Lynn is aware of the perception, and addressed it in Derrick Goold’s profile for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last summer:

“Early on in my career, it was my personality and my desire to win that looked like a bad attitude,” Lynn said. “Now, it looks like I’m a bulldog. I think the more success you have the more things are accepted in this sport. I would have high highs and low lows. I had to find a way to be in between, and then I could be myself.”

In other words, he recognizes that being visibly upset when things go awry can come off as sulky if it's happening too often. Fortunately, Lynn hasn't experienced all that many downs in a career that's yielded a 3.38 ERA over six seasons – making his trouble finding work this winter all the more flummoxing.

When asked if his slow offseason, which culminated in a deal much smaller than anyone initially expected, put a chip on his shoulder, the right-hander shrugged.

“That chip on the shoulder has been there since the day I was born,” he said.

But while he won’t admit it frontally, there’s little doubt that being snubbed by the market will add extra fuel to his motivation, as will the fact that he’s once again auditioning for his next contract.

He Can Reach Back For Something Extra

I was a little surprised to see Lynn flash 94 on the gun multiple times during his first spring start. He hasn't been in that range regularly with the four-seamer since 2014.

"I've got a lot in there that I don't like to show unless I have to," he said after the outing.

Given his heavy reliance on fastballs, even an extra sliver of velocity can make a big difference. It's probably no coincidence during that aforementioned 2014 campaign when he routinely operated at 93-94 with his four-seam and 92+ with his sinker, he worked a career-high 203 2/3 innings with career lows in ERA (2.74) and WHIP (1.26).

He Doesn’t Mind the Cold

The weather for Lynn’s first spring start was on the chilly side, at least by the standards of southwest Florida in March. Cool winds swirled throughout the morning, and the temperature barely eclipsed 60 degrees by game time.

Of course, he’ll likely experience lower temps during the early and late parts of the season in Minnesota, where he has never pitched in his career. He embraces it.

“I like the cold,” he quickly responded during his press conference when asked about what attracted him to the Twins. He added that growing up in Indianapolis instilled this in him.

Lynn isn’t the first free agent acquisition to express an affinity for pitching in brisk conditions (Erv) but we’ve also seen it go the other way; Ricky Nolasco wasn't shy about voicing his displeasure about the cold.

Unlike Santana, who grew up pitching in the Dominican Republic, and spent all but one season of his pre-Twins MLB career in Los Angeles and Atlanta, Lynn had formative experiences in cooler climates. That could play well for a team with aspirations of playing into October.

His Arrival Erased Any Slim Hopes for a Rookie to Come North

This isn't so much a fact about Lynn as the ripple effect of his signing. About an hour before his press conference got underway, the Twins announced they’d optioned five pitchers to the minors, including fringe rotation candidates Adalberto Mejia, Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Aaron Slegers.

Of that group, only Mejia had a realistic shot of breaking camp in the rotation – and he’s no rookie anymore. But Romero was making about as good a case as he possibly could for a spot on the staff, spreading eight hitless innings across four appearances with eight strikeouts and one walk.

With his success throwing in short bursts, there was some thought the Twins might try to sneak him in as a reliever, but they are rightfully sending him back to Double-A to keep developing in his most impactful role.

"We see him as a starter," Falvey said on Tuesday morning, repeating it for emphasis. "We see him as a starter, despite the 1-2 inning stints this spring that looked pretty good."

The Twins are setting up to boast a rather loaded rotation at Triple-A, and figure to have no shortage of reinforcements on hand over the course of the summer with Santana and Trevor May factoring in as well as the prospects. That is, of course, by design.

"Depth in the rotation is the goal," Molitor said. "I think we've achieved that with flying colors."

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21 Comments

Hope he turns out to be a good one for us.

    • Twins33, bluechipper and HitInAPinch like this

Nice.  Fun to see the actual person, after all of these months parsing the numbers.  I wish they would have gotten him for a couple seasons!

    • Shaitan and Don Walcott like this

He pitched really well.However I do not trust the Hammond Stadium gun.It is a couple miles fast.It had Hughes at 92, a velocity he did not reach outside that ballpark. 

 

Lynn will pitch at the minor league intersquad games this coming Sunday.It will be interesting to peek at the handhelds and see what his velocity is there.Probably a truer number.

 

So far so good.It will be interesting to see how filling a rotation full of number 3s will play for the Twins this season.If the Twins' number 3 is better than 70% of the other teams' number 3s, that will have them at about 22 games over .500 in the regular season (93-69).The post-season is the issue with this approach.

    • Dantes929, blindeke, HitInAPinch and 1 other like this
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Old Twins Cap
Mar 13 2018 04:27 PM

After today's spring training game, extend him!:}

    • Thrylos, HitInAPinch and Original Whizzinator like this

 

After today's spring training game, extend him!:}

Probably too late, with this extended string of dominance.

Wouldn't be shocked to see him do as well as Darvish does.

    • Original Whizzinator likes this
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FormerMinnasotan
Mar 13 2018 11:48 PM
I am excited he’s a part of our staff. I think he’ll rub off some on Berrios. What I mean is just the mental toughness (aka bulldog approach) on the mound. With Lynn we now have a competent MLB pitching staff with few outstanding weaknesses. But I think he’ll be gone next year. While we’ll probably lose Santana and possibly Gibson we will get Pineda, May (?), and should be ready for Gonsalves or Romero to join the rotation full time next year.
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Homer Hanky
Mar 14 2018 06:51 AM

His post game interviews are legendary... check em out! Media is going to love this guys humor! 

 

 

 

    • Brock Beauchamp, USAFChief, Twins33 and 7 others like this
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Original Whizzinator
Mar 14 2018 07:30 AM
This guy is funny. Remember the reported quiet clubhouses of the aughts? This team has a ton of personality.
    • Homer Hanky and GP830 like this
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Don Walcott
Mar 14 2018 08:42 AM

It looks like we signed a real competitor. I'm happy to see that the FO pays attention to more than just numbers.

 

His post game interviews are legendary... check em out! Media is going to love this guys humor! 

 

 

Seems that Lynn will be a fan of the rule limiting mound visits .... "I just stare back into their soul and tell them to go back to the dugout."

    • Twins33, nicksaviking, PseudoSABR and 5 others like this

 

This guy is funny. Remember the reported quiet clubhouses of the aughts? This team has a ton of personality.

This is really important. All good teams have characters and personalities. Very rarely do fireless teams win it all! 

    • Homer Hanky likes this

 

His post game interviews are legendary... check em out! Media is going to love this guys humor! 

 

Ok. I just watched this. Maybe he's actually just insane?

    • nicksaviking, Homer Hanky and Minny505 like this

Count me among those super-excited when news of the Lynn signing broke.At the same time, as exciting as it was to see him perform yesterday, I'm taking it with a grain of salt.Just as I would if he had gotten lit up.Spring training, especially for pitchers, is about ramping up and prepping for the 162 game grind.  

 

Still, it would be an awful lotta fun if yesterday's debut was a sign of things to come once the games start counting for real.

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Homer Hanky
Mar 14 2018 09:14 AM

 

Seems that Lynn will be a fan of the rule limiting mound visits .... "I just stare back into their soul and tell them to go back to the dugout."

I love that quote the most!!! 

 

GO TWINS

Between Lynn and Morrison this team will be a hoot.

    • Twins33 and Homer Hanky like this
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nicksaviking
Mar 14 2018 10:58 AM

I like the personality and the attitude.

    • Twins33 and Homer Hanky like this

Deep Thoughts by Lance Lynn....What do you think about throwing a fastball?

 

https://youtu.be/m5dvlF002mw

 

    • nicksaviking and Homer Hanky like this
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puckstopper1
Mar 14 2018 11:13 AM

I hope he is more Jack Morris type bulldog than Carl Pavano at the end of his time with the Twins.Bert would slobber all over Carl's bulldog attitude to hang in there (and get shelled game after game).

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nicksaviking
Mar 14 2018 11:47 AM

 

Deep Thoughts by Lance Lynn....What do you think about throwing a fastball?

 

https://youtu.be/m5dvlF002mw

 

and another failed attempt at posting a Youtube video rather than a link to it :(

 

I've been harping on the fact that he doesn't have off speed pitches, and I still don't like it.

 

I do like that he's very aware of that and owns it completely. Seems like a fun guy, hope it works out.

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ShouldaCouldaWoulda
Mar 14 2018 12:21 PM

His line today is pretty impressive at least. Looks like he might bump is K% back up. I hope.


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