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The Case for Lance Lynn


Twins Daily’s Ted Schwerzler recently made a compelling case for why the Twins should avoid Lance Lynn this trade deadline. Today, I’ll attempt to do the opposite.Lynn’s first go-round with Minnesota obviously didn’t go well. He failed to find the free agent deal he was hoping for and ended up signing a last minute deal with the Twins, missing much of spring training. The results weren’t there and he wasn’t exactly heralded as a great clubhouse presence, ultimately ending his season with Minnesota prematurely as he was dealt to the New York Yankees at the trade deadline. Not many Twins fans were lamenting over the loss of Lynn, including yours truly, but things could be different this time.

 

Lynn Is Really Good

 

First off, Lynn is a different pitcher than he was in his time with the Twins. Prior to coming to Minnesota, he was very good, never recording an ERA of over four in his six years in St. Louis. Since his one bad year (2018), he’s been even better. Last year Lynn pitched 208.1 IP with a 3.67 ERA and 3.13 FIP. He finished fifth in AL Cy Young voting, third in FanGraphs WAR (6.8), and second in Baseball Reference WAR (7.5). He also missed plenty of bats, striking out 10.6 per nine.

This year he’s been even better. In seven starts Lynn is 4-and-0 with a miniscule ERA of 1.59 and 0.86 WHIP. He’s continued to get the Ks with 9.93 per nine, has gone six or more innings in all but one start, has yet to give up more than two earned runs in a start, and has even went the distance in Coors Field of all places (only giving up two hits and one earned run).

 

It’s only fair to point out that he’s probably not quite as good as that last paragraph makes him sound. While his ERA is otherworldly, his FIP brings him back down to earth a bit, albeit at a very good 3.38. His BABIP of just .189 is going to come up and he is also currently stranding 93.9% of base runners. However, even with some regression, Lynn is still really good.

So, what’s changed?

 

The Pitch Mix

 

Lance Lynn has always thrown a lot of fastballs, and that’s never going to change. However, not all fastballs are equal. In 2018 Lynn threw his four-seamer 44.9% of the time, his sinker at 32.5%, and his cutter at 11.6%. Fast forward to the present, and the four-seamer usage is up to 57.8%, while the cutter has ascended to 20.5%, and the sinker is down to 13.2% Lynn also throws a curve (7.9%) and very rarely a changeup. More of the four-seamer is a good thing as Lynn is in the 90th percentile for spin and averages 94.0 mph. Batters are hitting just .191 against it, and his expected batting average against the four-seamer is at just .193.

 

The cutter has been just as good with a .091 BA against and a very good xBA of, once again, .193. The sinker is the worst of the three, and is appropriately being utilized the least, but it’s still a good pitch (.136 BA, .256 xBA). The three pitches are able to play off each other as they all look the same coming out of Lynn’s hand. He hides the ball well, and tunneling the pitches leaves batters guessing as to where the fastball will end up.

 

It’s Different This Time

 

Things change, people change, circumstances change. The circumstances were not ideal for Lynn in his first run with Minnesota, but things would be quite different this time. First off, Lynn would go from a struggling Texas Rangers ball club to a first-rate contender in the Twins. Secondly, Minnesota has a different manager and pitching coach in place since Lynn was last here. Rocco Baldelli is very much a player’s manager and Wes Johnson is quickly becoming one of the most highly regarded pitching coaches in all of baseball. Plus, the fact that the Twins would actively seek out Lynn and give up prospect capital for him might make Lynn feel more wanted than getting signed to a last minute below-market deal.

 

Lynn Would Solidify the Rotation for 2021

 

Another advantage to acquiring Lynn would be the fact that he has another year left on his current contract. There’s a lot of risk in trading for a rental as additional COVID outbreaks could put the season in jeopardy, so the extra year makes Lynn much more appealing (and costly). With Kenta Maeda, the Twins have already traded for a great pitcher on a team-friendly contract, and Lynn is no different. He is owed just $9.3 million for the 2021 season, an absolute bargain for a starter of his pedigree. Lynn would slide in nicely with Maeda, José Berríos, Michael Pineda, and Randy Dobnak. Outside of Trevor Bauer, the free-agent pitching market will be pretty thin, so why not take care of that final rotation spot now?

 

What do you think of Lance Lynn? What would you give up for him (if anything)? Does anyone else see a resemblance to the

in Lynn’s current incarnation?

 

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Let me make a case for not signing him.  He does not want to be here!  That actually says it all.  Players do well when they are satisfied with their team and situation.  He blew us off, took the money, laughed on the way to the bank and headed to Texas.  I do not want or need him.  If he comes I will hope he loses every game, not that he will care.  Please stop this.  There are other players out there who are not as obnoxious

 

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Let me make a case for not signing him.  He does not want to be here!  That actually says it all.  Players do well when they are satisfied with their team and situation.  He blew us off, took the money, laughed on the way to the bank and headed to Texas.  I do not want or need him.  If he comes I will hope he loses every game, not that he will care.  Please stop this.  There are other players out there who are not as obnoxious

What an terrible take in every way. 

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I do not know the man.  I know when he was here before he was not happy with the lack of contracts offered to him and he signed with Twins late on a bargain contract.  He may have taken this out on Twins.  Maybe he did some self-reflection and change is ways, maybe he just did not like being here.  Maybe he will like it a second time.  Personally, if you can get him for a bargain trade, I would take a flyer on to see.  He has value, and to pitch well in TX is always tough.  The main risk you can face is if he is a bad club house guy, but again if he was, maybe he has changed after that season with Twins.  

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Let`s just say that he`s changed. Texas is happy w/ him, even though they aren`t doing very well this season, I believe they`d be looking forward to next year. w/ their new stadium next year they`d like to fill it  (their best advantage is their rotation, I see them try to keep it together) 

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