The St. Louis Cardinals’ leader in victories this past season was a rookie reliever the year before. In 2012, Lance Lynn won 17 games in the rotation and another out of the bullpen.
Lynn was hot from the very beginning. Elevated to the rotation to replace injured Chris Carpenter, he posted a 2.61 spring ERA. Lynn went on to be named to the National League all-star team, sporting a 9-4 record and a 3.28 ERA in the first half.
Yet, it was not all roses for the 25-year-old.
After going winless in five consecutive starts to open August, Lynn was moved into the bullpen. He was returned to the rotation three weeks later and made four starts to close the regular season, winning all four.
In the Wild Card game at Atlanta, Lynn collected a lone out. He then went 1-1 while allowing three runs in 3 1/3 innings of relief in the NLDS. Lynn earned the victory in Game 2, but served up the walkoff home run to Washington’s Jayson Werth to end Game 4.
Though the Cardinals’ initial four-man post-season rotation did not include Lynn, Jaime Garcia’s recurring shoulder problems created an opportunity.
Against San Francisco in the NLCS, Lynn made two starts, with one no-decision and one defeat. With four Giants runs on the board in Game 1, Lynn was pulled after 3 2/3 innings in a game St. Louis held on to win.
Lynn also started the pivotal Game 5. With the Cards up three games to one, this was the final contest at Busch Stadium. The club blew the first and best of three opportunities to take the series. After three scoreless frames, the Cardinals defense fell apart in the fourth. Four unearned runs scored while Lynn was pitching, his own throwing error being a contributor.
Still, it seems doubtful that the Cardinals would have made it as far as the post-season without Lynn.
With the bottom line being winning, that is what the Cards did when Lynn took the mound.
When Lynn started, the Cardinals logged a.724 regular-season winning percentage (21-8). That was the best mark among the club’s seven pitchers with more than one start.
In the games Lynn did not start, the 2012 Cards were essentially a .500 team at 67-66.
How’s that for impact?