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Lance Lynn Was Worth The Wait

It has been an eventful last few months for Lance Lynn to say the least. It all started back in November, when he became a free agent for the first time in his career and was given a qualifying offer by the St. Louis Cardinals. At the time it was unanimously considered that Lynn made the correct decision in turning down the offer, but as the strange offseason progressed Lynn kept going unsigned.
Lynn eventually ended up signing with the Minnesota Twins in the middle of March for a 1-year deal that will be worth between $3.4 million and $5.4 million less than the qualifying offer he rejected four months earlier.

When Lynn first signed this deal, some wondered if his missing a month of spring training would affect his performance early in the season. At first, I didn’t buy much into this theory, but when you look at the numbers you can’t help but feel that there was something to that.

During the month of April, Lynn was a mess, pitching to the tune of an 8.37 ERA with a 6.56 FIP and a walk rate of 8.75 BB/9 over 23 2/3 innings. However, since turning the calendar to May, Lynn has been a whole new pitcher with a 3.20 ERA, a 3.07 FIP and a walk rate down to a more respectable 3.60 BB/9 over 45 innings.

So, what has caused this sudden turnaround from Lance Lynn? Well, as I already pointed out, Lynn has had a sharp decline in his walk rate. Over his five starts in April, Lynn walked a combined 23 batters, but in his eight starts since Lynn has walked just 18.

There have been two big factors in Lynn’s decreased walk rate. This first has been by simply throwing more pitches in the strike zone. During his five April starts, Lynn had thrown just 32.9 percent of his pitches in the zone. However, since then his rate has increased to 37.8 percent. Lynn still has some work to do to get closer to the roughly 43 percent league average, but it’s a definite step in the right direction.

The other thing that is helping Lynn lower his walk rate is opposing batters are swinging at a higher percentage of his pitches outside of the strike zone, as Lynn has seen his chase rate increase from 28.5 percent to 31.3 percent.

In addition to finding better control with his pitches, Lynn has seen his fastball velocity tick up as the season has progressed. Here is a look at both Lynn’s four-seam fastball and sinker average velocity on a per start basis.


LLFF2018


LLSI2018


In addition to Lance Lynn increasing his fastball velocity, he has also seen his changeup velocity drop which has helped him create a bigger gap between the two pitches.

LLCH2018


So, what are some of the benefits that Lance Lynn is getting from his improved control and increased fastball velocity? Perhaps the biggest improvement has been in Lynn’s home run rate. Back in April, Lynn had given up a home run 27.8 percent of the time he gave up a fly ball, which resulted in five home runs in just five starts. However, since then, Lynn has given up just two home runs after decreasing his home run to fly ball rate down to 5.6 percent. As the season continues I would expect that number to settle in somewhere slightly above his career 9.3 percent rate given the current home run environment.

Another significant improvement in Lynn’s game has been his stranded runners rate. After allowing 35 percent of runners that reached base to score during April, Lynn has cut that down to just 22 percent of base runners during May and June. For his career Lynn has allowed 24 percent of base runners to eventually score, so it appears that Lynn has returned to form in that regard.

Part of the concern around Lance Lynn when the Twins first signed him was his .244 Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) last season, which was the lowest mark of any qualified pitcher in Major League Baseball. This mark was much lower than the .299 career average that Lance Lynn had allowed, and lead some to believe that he would show some regression this year as that number came back to Earth.

Well, not only did that number come back to Earth, but it blew way past it and swelled all the way up to .349 during the month of April. This was the 14th highest mark among the 134 pitchers who threw at least 20 innings by the end of April. Since then, Lynn has seen his BABIP reverse course back to Earth and dropped to .323 during May and June. Not only is this a step in the right direction, but it would suggest that Lynn still has a little more room for improvement as that number continues to move back towards his career average.

Entering the season, the Twins had high hopes that Lance Lynn would help lead their starting rotation, especially with the loss of Ervin Santana, and so far this year it appears as Lynn goes so does the Twins pitching staff. Through the first month of the season, the Twins ranked 28th in Major League Baseball with a 5.29 ERA. However, since the beginning on May, the Twins pitching staff has improved to 9th place with a 3.49 ERA.

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24 Comments

Unfortunately, while we were waiting the season likely got away from us.
    • mikelink45, tarheeltwinsfan, Minny505 and 3 others like this
Kinda jumping the gun ... It's a few starts, and some against pretty bad teams ... I need to see a few more
    • deanlambrecht, mikelink45 and jud6312 like this
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Andrew Thares
Jun 19 2018 07:38 PM

 

Kinda jumping the gun ... It's a few starts, and some against pretty bad teams ... I need to see a few more

Lynn has had nearly twice as many good starts as bad starts this year, along with a 6 year track record of success. I think the only people jumping the gun are the ones that assumed Lynn was washed up after one bad month.

    • Brock Beauchamp, Carole Keller, Steve Lein and 18 others like this

 

Lynn has had nearly twice as many good starts as bad starts this year, along with a 6 year track record of success. I think the only people jumping the gun are the ones that assumed Lynn was washed up after one bad month.

I never assumed he was washed up but when you can't find the plate for a month I promoted the idea that he should fix his game in the minors.Probably would have been a good thing if he had started there. Seemed like he was walking more than one an inning and that everyone that walked scored. Very happy to see him turn it around.

His value is quickly becoming his worth in "trade value". Hopefully he continues to pitch well into July and can bring back a good prospect.
    • birdwatcher, deanlambrecht, mikelink45 and 4 others like this
The improvement in pitching this season from previous ones is tremendous. Despite such a horrible start to the season, Lynn has been a part of that improvement, including the in season improvement listed in the OP. And all of this without Santana.

It may simply be too late, but how much more fun can the rest of this season be with even a normalization on offense.
    • brvama likes this

 

Lynn has had nearly twice as many good starts as bad starts this year, along with a 6 year track record of success. I think the only people jumping the gun are the ones that assumed Lynn was washed up after one bad month.

 

You are correct, sir! I think what we're seeing is why we not only signed him this season but tried to get him to commit to a multi-year deal (2, as I recall). 

 

If you've got a guy like Lance Lynn as your 3rd or 4th starter, your rotation is probably in pretty decent shape. It's going to be an interesting call on whether to move him at the deadline (there's no question he'll have value, but how much?) or whether you try to re-sign him in the offseason (not mutually exclusive, of course but I suspect it'd be much easier to get him to come back if we don't rent him out to someone else for most of the second half).

 

Bad start, but he's still a solid pitcher. He's going better than Romero or Odorizzi over the last month. It's nice to see him start getting consistently into the 6th inning

 

Lynn has had nearly twice as many good starts as bad starts this year, along with a 6 year track record of success. I think the only people jumping the gun are the ones that assumed Lynn was washed up after one bad month.

I'm not sure what your qualifiers are, but we'll have to agree to disagree on the good start/bad start statistics.7/6 is about as generous as I can go.He gets the Red Sox and Cubs in two of next three, if he can give the team a chance to win and not require bullpen abuse in those games, then I'll be more likely to lean toward the believer side.Anything less than that, and I'll just hope he can be good against all the bad teams the Twins draw in that long homestand before the break, so the FO can move him for some kind of value shortly after that.

 

Jacoby 'Flippin' Jones

    • KirbyDome89 and jud6312 like this

 

Lynn has had nearly twice as many good starts as bad starts this year

 

 

I'm not sure what your qualifiers are, but we'll have to agree to disagree on the good start/bad start statistics.7/6 is about as generous as I can go.

 

By game score, slash129 is correct. League average is 52. Lynn has hit that mark 7 times, and fallen short 6 times. And he's fallen well short -- closest is only 40, twice, which was 5 runs on 12 baserunners in 6 innings, and 3 runs on 8 baserunners in 3 innings. Those were not against powerhouse offenses either (vs. Tampa and St. Louis, respectively). Subjectively, I wouldn't call those "good starts" even though they could have been worse.

 

Lynn has 5 starts in a row with a game score of 54 or better, though, so it's definitely been trending up. But he's not at a point where his overall performance this season is decidedly a success yet.

    • Hosken Bombo Disco and KirbyDome89 like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Jun 20 2018 09:40 AM

 

By game score, slash129 is correct. League average is 52. Lynn has hit that mark 7 times, and fallen short 6 times. And he's fallen well short -- closest is only 40, twice, which was 5 runs on 12 baserunners in 6 innings, and 3 runs on 8 baserunners in 3 innings. Those were not against powerhouse offenses either (vs. Tampa and St. Louis, respectively). Subjectively, I wouldn't call those "good starts" even though they could have been worse.

 

Lynn has 5 starts in a row with a game score of 54 or better, though, so it's definitely been trending up. But he's not at a point where his overall performance this season is decidedly a success yet.

Agreed but given the way he's trending and the circumstances that likely led to his initial struggles (late start to season), I think it's more likely than not he ends up have a decent season by his standards once you adjust to AL expectations.

    • howieramone2 likes this
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nicksaviking
Jun 20 2018 10:01 AM

I didn't think much of Lynn due to his lack of offspeed and breaking stuff. So his last five starts or so have been a nice surprise.

 

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howieramone2
Jun 20 2018 10:06 AM

Solid pick up. If we trade him, we will get an arm and a leg. I wouldn't mind giving him a qualifying offer.

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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jun 20 2018 10:14 AM
Glad for the Twins Lynn is finally pitching better. Missing spring training, he had to play a lot of catch up.

 

Solid pick up. If we trade him, we will get an arm and a leg. I wouldn't mind giving him a qualifying offer.

Unfortunately, with the new CBA, a player can only get a QO once in their career.So it's trade him before the season is over, sign him again, or he walks with no compensation for the Twins.  

    • Andrew Thares likes this
I hope this trend continues! They need it.

 

Solid pick up. If we trade him, we will get an arm and a leg. I wouldn't mind giving him a qualifying offer.

We can't give him a qualifying offer, players can only get 1 in their careers now.

 

Not sure how you define "arm and a leg", maybe something line Huascar Ynoa or Zack Littell.

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howieramone2
Jun 20 2018 10:46 AM

 

We can't give him a qualifying offer, players can only get 1 in their careers now.

 

Not sure how you define "arm and a leg", maybe something line Huascar Ynoa or Zack Littell.

I'm guessing we will look for help for the back of our pen. Lynn will get us what we need. 

 

I'm guessing we will look for help for the back of our pen. Lynn will get us what we need. 

Relief prospects?

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KirbyDome89
Jun 20 2018 11:40 AM

 

Kinda jumping the gun ... It's a few starts, and some against pretty bad teams ... I need to see a few more

You're right, he beat up on KC, Detroit, and CWS in May and he was fell flat against STL and LA. I would guess that his increased chase rate and % of pitches in the strike zone has as much to do with facing some pretty poor offensive lineups as it does with him rediscovering his form. Hats off to him for pitching well against Cleveland and LA this month though.

 

As a nitpick I would quantify his positive May-June starts as more than "a few," but overall I agree with what you're saying; the jury is still out on what he'll be moving forward. I'm also not sure that his 5 years prior to TJ surgery are particularly relevant other than to highlight the fact he hasn't gotten back to where he was. 

    • Mike Sixel and slash129 like this
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howieramone2
Jun 21 2018 08:41 AM

 

Relief prospects?

No the real thing. A solid 3 with a good track record, will be valuable at the deadline. For those who don't know, we will be buyers and sellers.

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jun 21 2018 08:51 AM

No the real thing. A solid 3 with a good track record, will be valuable at the deadline. For those who don't know, we will be buyers and sellers.

The only issue I see is those teams buying proven starting pitching will not be the same teams selling proven relievers. So creativity will be needed.
    • spycake and howieramone2 like this

No the real thing. A solid 3 with a good track record, will be valuable at the deadline. For those who don't know, we will be buyers and sellers.


How many "established player for established player" swaps do you see at the deadline?

Also, if your relief target has a "good track record" they will probably be near free agency anyway. Might as well keep Lynn if he is performing well and you still want to contend in 2018; or, if you are out of the race for 2018, trade Lynn for a prospect and sign your relief target in the offseason.
    • Mike Sixel likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jun 22 2018 06:40 AM

trading Lynn is waiving the white flag on the season. He took a while to warm up, but he's pitching like the guy most of us hoped we were getting. His walk rate is a bit high, but beyond that, he's getting the job done quite well every 5th day. 

 

Given our position right now, we might waive the flag... we might not. Our pitching is good enough this year that if a few more guys step it up behidn the plate, we could close that gap with Cleveland quickly.

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ashburyjohn
Jun 22 2018 07:13 AM

trading Lynn is waiving the white flag on the season. He took a while to warm up, but he's pitching like the guy most of us hoped we were getting. His walk rate is a bit high, but beyond that, he's getting the job done quite well every 5th day. 

 

Given our position right now, we might waive the flag... we might not. Our pitching is good enough this year that if a few more guys step it up behidn the plate, we could close that gap with Cleveland quickly.

Agreed. We signed him in order to compete. If we're in contention, we keep him.


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