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The St. Louis Cardinals dropped the second game of the team’s series down in Atlanta, but that had nothing to do with lefty starter Tyler Lyons.
The 26-year old was dealing most of the night, allowing just a solo home run to Justin Upton along with four total hits and a walk while striking out seven over six innings. It was a good outing for Lyons, despite the bad result for the Cardinals.
Since being re-called from Memphis to replace Joe Kelly as he nurses a sore hammy, Lyons has been beyond solid despite his 0-2 record over his three starts and five total appearances.
In fact, Lyons has been so solid, that in this baseball nerd’s opinion, that the tall lefty should stick around and remain in the rotation even when Kelly returns. Here are five reasons why.
1. Joe Kelly can help make the bullpen deeper. Kelly has pitched out of the bullpen before, and successfully, and could help deepen a bullpen that I view as the biggest weakness of this club. Even with Jason Motte on the way to replace Eric Fontanero, having Joe Kelly available in the pen would be a massive upgrade over Seth Maness and there is no way to deny this.
On nights where Carlos Martinez, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal are all not available, like they were on Tuesday night against the Braves, it would be nice to have an arm like Kelly hanging around to pitch in big situations instead of over-exposing Pat Neshak and Randy Choate.
2. It is always nice to have a lefty in the rotation. Old school baseball folks will insist that having a lefty in the rotation is a necessity and while I typically do not agree, for this year’s club and this rotation, it could help matters and here is why.
Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn have been pitching well this year. The Cardinals are just 17-17 on the season, but are actually 9-5 when the hard-throwing duo start games. But it could help the rotation out by having Lyons in the rotation, and specifically, breaking up Miller and Lynn.
Miller and Lynn both have similar stuff, relying on a four-seam fastball, throw way too many pitches per plate appearance as a result, and do not pitch deep enough into games. Miller or Lynn have thrown more than six innings just once in 14 combined starts this season, but have failed to go at least six innings on seven occasions.
Meanwhile, Lyons has now pitched six innings in all three of his starts and could break up the right-handed fastballs and help give the bullpen a break on occasion. Plus, it is not as if Kelly pitches deep in to games a starter either.
3. What else does Lyons have to prove at Memphis? After a cup of coffee in St. Louis last season, it was clear that Lyons had more work to do and after a solid spring and an impressive start the second go-around with the Cardinals this season, it looks like Lyons has made the progression.
Lyons is showing that he is ready to stick with the club and I am not sure there is much else he can accomplish in Memphis.
4. Keeping Lyons as a starter at the MLB-level will make him quite the attractive trade chip down the road. The Cardinals are obviously very deep with a bevy of young starting pitching. At this point, Martinez can not even get in to the rotation, and that is unlikely to last past this season. So, it is very unlikely there will be room in the St. Louis rotation in the future for Lyons.
So where is his value maximized? By dominating yet another season in Memphis, or serving as a solid left-handed starter at the back-end of the Cardinals loaded rotation?
I think the answer to that question is quite easy to answer and does not deserve an explanation.
Conclusion: Overall, Lyons has shown that he has taken the steps and grown in to a pitcher capable of handling the No. 5 role in the Cardinals rotation and because he is a lefty, the versatility of Kelly and in order to increase his trade value down the road, the Cardinals should keep him in the rotation going forward, even when Kelly returns.
Lyons is showing he can help the Cardinals and is proving to be yet another reliable and impressive young arm for the Cardinals.
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