So, what to do about the problem that is Lance Lynn starting?
It is a problem, right? He’s now allowed 10 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings over his last two starts, and 17 earned runs in 22 1/3 innings pitched in July. His ERA has risen from 3.52 at the end of June to its current 4.13.
After his June 3 start at Busch Stadium against the Arizona Diamondbacks in which he allowed only 1 earned run in 7 innings, his ERA was 2.76. He’s had two more good starts (quality starts, if you want to use that definition) since then — allowing 1 earned run against the Cubs on June 20 and 2 earned runs on July 7 against the Marlins — so all hasn’t been terrible. But he’s also allowed 4, 7, 4, 5, 6 and 4 earned runs in his other starts.
Wins are often a questionable measure, since a guy can pitch really well and not “win” the game. Or, conversely, someone like Lance Lynn can allow 7 earned runs on 9 hits in only 5 innings pitching of a 13-7 Cardinals victory against the Marlins and be the winning pitcher. And Wolf Pup has 11 wins, along with 5 losses — though 4 of those losses have come in his last 5 starts.
Is it time, as it was last August, to take Lynn out of the rotation? At that point he had a 3.93 ERA and had given up 22 earned runs in his previous 28 1/3 innings pitched and had a 13-5 record. There certainly are many viable alternatives right now to Lynn in the starting rotation. (As our pal Bob wrote yesterday, what about Tyler Lyons?)
As it stands now, Lynn starts are turning into Guaranteed Loss Nights — a not-so-fun term coined by my friend Michael back in the painful days we don’t want to remember when Jason Marquis, Todd Wellemeyer and Kip Wells pitched for the Cards and, far too often, lost games. Michael said in an email during last night’s game “It’s just so much easier when you expect the Cardinals will lose when Lance Lynn is pitching, and then just be surprised when they do pull one out.”
Yet having an almost guaranteed loss every five games in a very tight National League Central race is pretty risky business.
Better options are out there (hey, why not give Carlos Martinez a start? Can’t hurt, right? And obviously there’s Tyler Lyons) and give Lynn an opportunity to be a set-up guy again. It worked in 2012 to give him a break, as he came back and was more effective late in the season.
Because right now, yes, Lance Lynn as a starter is a problem.
Christine Coleman is the lead St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.