Last spring, the biggest question mark concerning the St. Louis Cardinals was the mysterious Lance Lynn. The guy who was picked to be the replacement starter for the injured Chris Carpenter and defending World Series champions was a virtual unknown to many. He went undrafted in virtually every conventional redraft league.
First off, he was not as highly touted within the St. Louis farm system as right-handers Shelby Miller or Trevor Rosenthal. Second, his body of work in the minor leagues screamed “beware!” Finally, Lynn was only expected to keep the seat warm until Carpenter was healthy or when Miller or Rosenthal were ready.
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Regardless, Lynn made his debut on April 8 in Milwaukee. He won the first of what would become 18 wins after striking out eight Brewers in 6.2 innings pitched. Lynn allowed one earned run in the effort, and he would begin the year 6-o. Lynn was making the Cardinals organization look like geniuses once again.
Despite a strong start that helped Lynn finish 18-7 with a sub-4.00 ERA, it was a tale of two seasons for the rookie. After landing a spot on the National League All-Star team, everything began to dwindle on June 19 for Lynn when he took on the Detroit Tigers in interleague play. From June 19 to August 18 (when Lynn was removed from the starting rotation), the righty allowed 37 earned runs in 60.2 innings pitched. Compare that to the 22 earned runs Lynn allowed in the first 81.2 innings he pitched to begin the season. Lynn would eventually return to the rotation out of necessity in the middle of September and for the playoffs though.
So, why should you be cautious with selecting Lynn in 2013? First off, he appears better suited for the bullpen due to his immense success against right-handed hitters as compared to left-handed hitters. Left-handed hitting smoked Lynn for nearly 69 percent of the dingers he allowed. Lynn’s struggles against left-handed hitting continued in strikeouts, too, where there exists a vast parity in total strikeouts as compared to the right-handed hitters he faced.
Second, the Cardinals have not yet penciled in who will be their fifth starter. Mark Schremmer of the Joplin Globe reiterated that the competition for this final job is down to Lynn, Miller, Rosenthal and Joe Kelly. As you will see with the next issue, the certainty surrounding Lynn’s rotational security, or lack thereof, dampens the prospect of him winning anything close to 18 games again in 2013.
Third, ESPN’s fantasy baseball analyst Tristan Cockcroft currently has Lynn ranked 30th among starting pitchers. There is nothing wrong with respectfully disagreeing with that presumption. The mind-boggling aspect of having Lynn as the 30th best pitcher to draft stems from the fact Lynn, who has yet to even nail down a job and who is pegged to start in a rotation behind Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia, is ranked ahead of Ian Kennedy, Jake Peavy, Jarrod Parker and Jeremy Hellickson.
Simply put, if Lynn is going to cost more value-wise than the like’s of the aforementioned pitchers, then it is necessary for the fantasy draftee to pass on Lynn, acquire better talent elsewhere and stack up on better pitching value later in the draft.
The wide array of expectations for Lynn simply leads to the need to devalue him on your draft board. When considering his stats against right- and left-handed batters, the most reasonable thing to expect: Lynn will end up as a righty specialist within the Cardinals bullpen. After all, both Miller and Rosenthal are awaiting their shots and have much higher ceilings as starters than Lynn. By most accounts, both Miller and Rosenthal project as potential aces.
It’s more than sensible to expect Lynn to begin the season as the fifth starter, especially if one of four regular starters are not healthy for opening day. The only question is how long will Lynn remain a starter? Probably not long enough to gain enough value so you can snake someone in a trade for an equitable return in value.
If Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal were not breathing down Lance Lynn’s neck, this may not be such a cautionary tale. Instead, it is one where many folks who drink the juice on Lynn will end up with a hangover.
Lance Lynn – 2013 Projection