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Lance Lynn is the first starter to four wins this season

Apr 25, 2012, 6:20 PM EDT

Lance Lynn AP

Just as everyone predicted, right?

Lance Lynn, who was competing just to make the Cardinals as a middle reliever before Chris Carpenter got hurt this spring, won his fourth straight start Thursday by pitching eight innings of one-run ball against the Cubs.

Lynn has allowed exactly one run in each of his four starts to date, giving him a 1.33 ERA.

A 2008 supplemental first-round pick, Lynn wasn’t looked at as having a very high ceiling during his time in the minors. In ranking him the Cardinals’ No. 7 prospect this season, Baseball America stated, “As a minor league starter, Lynn mixed a darting 88-92 mph sinker, a curveball that could get loopy and a so-so changeup,” before noting that his velocity did improve in a relief stint. The nice surprise is that Lynn has held on to those velocity gains since moving back to the rotation. He’s averaging 92.4 mph with his fastball this year, which puts him in the top 25 or so percent of major league starters.

Lynn still isn’t this good. His changeup definitely needs work, and his slider isn’t an a big weapon as a third pitch either. Still, I think he’s a legit No.  3 for the Cardinals, and he has a real chance now at 15 wins, assuming the team can find room for him in the rotation after Carpenter returns.

  1. timstl - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    The only way they continue find room for him is if someone else gets injured, or Carpenter can’t return. I mean, who are you going to send to the ‘pen? Maybe Westbrook, but he has a 1.31 ERA right now, and Lynn is better suited for relief than he is anyway. It’s a nice luxury, and he’ll be starting next year I’m sure, but I’d be surprised if he sees 15 wins in 2012.

  2. okwhitefalcon - Apr 25, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Lynn was hardly “competing just to make the Cardinals as a middle reliever before Chris Carpenter got hurt this spring” – that ‘s a more appropriate description of what Mitchell Boggs and Eduardo Sanchez were doing.

    Lynn was heading north regardless of who got hurt.

    As for him staying in the rotation when/if Carpenter returns, I suspect he’ll be heading to the pen – they’re not paying Lohse and Westbrook nearly $20 million to log regular season bullpen innings.

    • spudchukar - Apr 25, 2012 at 9:23 PM

      True, there was little doubt Lynn would be part of the staff in 2012. I am still a proponent of going to a 6 man starting approach. Carpenter upon return, doesn’t need to be taxed, Wainwright will still be searching for pre-TJ form, neither Lohse nor Westbrook are known to be effective late in games, and Garcia has a history of getting his pitch counts up early and having trouble going deep into games and Lynn is building arm strength after a year primarily as a reliever. The extra day of rest should benefit all 6. Let’s think outside of the box and keep them all in the rotation.

    • stlouis1baseball - Apr 26, 2012 at 9:04 AM

      Definately not “competing just to make the Cardinals as a middle reliever.” Hell…they started him a few games last year prior to putting him in the pen (where the need was most glaring).
      I don’t look for Carp to return until after the AS break (hope I am wrong).
      Regardless…if Carp has an extended absence…that bodes well for L.L. to get 15 ‘W’s.
      If his start to this season is any indication of how his season plays out of course.

    • ajcardsfan - Apr 26, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      If/when Carp gets back and is healthy enough to start right away. I think we should be moving Wainwright back into the bullpen as relief and then let him go multiple innings on the nights Garcia wracks up a high count early. This way we can allow him to get his form back, and once he does, make a decision on what the rotation should be.

  3. paperlions - Apr 25, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    Scout comments from his spot starts last year stated that he showed them more than they had seen throughout most of his time in the minors, improved velocity and enough breaking stuff and command to be a solid back end starter. They guy is a horse; he can handle the innings…nice easy delivery.

    As long as he is pitching well, he’ll give the the luxury of not rushing anyone back…or overpaying for Oswalt.

  4. okwhitefalcon - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    He’s definitely got swing and miss stuff, K’d 15 at Memphis in a start last year or the year before, not sure which.

    Spud, I don’t see a 6 man rotation happening – not a bad idea but I’d be shocked if they have 6 healthy starters at one time this year. The silence on the Carp front is almost deafening.

    Lynn’s emergence definitely helps out on the budgetary side, the Oswalt money (if there is Oswalt money) may be necessary for a solution at 2nd if Descalso doesn’t take the opportunity and run with it when the Tyler Greene experiment officially ends. There maybe need for Plan C at 1B as well with Berkman and Craig (though on the mend) being gimpy. Matt Carpenter is showing signs of overexpsosure..

    Lotsa Cards info from Joe Strauss’ chat today, gives Carp a “70% chance” at returning this year..

    Check it out guys, good stuff.

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