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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

TCN Blog 2012 top story #11: All-star Lynn wins 18 games

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.

Starting 29 games, Lynn logged 16 quality starts and a 17-5 record. His strikeout rate of 9.1 per nine innings was best among the seven Cardinals starters.

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?

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of the year countdown

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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11 Responses to “TCN Blog 2012 top story #11: All-star Lynn wins 18 games”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Lance Lynn was a fine draft decision in June 2008. The Cards moved him up to the supplemental round versus the lower grade of MLB’s scouting bureau. He’s a big horse.
    Both of Lynn’s starts versus San Francisco began well, overpowering the Giants the first time down the lineup. Then things abruptly changed in the 4th inning of each game and he did not find ways to control the damage. He may just need a little more experience and a little more of an offspeed pitch, because most pitchers cannot just fire fastballs past playoff teams for 7 innings.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Lynn is a plausible candidate to win 20 during 2013, in contrast to Jake Westbrook.
      We are losing a reliable winner in Lohse, 16-3 record. His loss will need to be replaced. Shelby Miller has the potential to become a big winner, so we want him to step up and earn a spot in the rotation.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        Plausible…………????????………………. IF he got to ride the 5 slot………not even possible from there I think…………… If Carpenter is stroking away to a 15 win season…… that wouldn’t hurt…..don’t see it…..just a sub 4.00 era would be an accomplishment.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          In Lynn’s first year as a starting pitcher, he collected 17 wins and led the team. If you think 20 wins is implausible, this explains a lot.

          • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

            His chance of being under 10 wins would be 2 to 1 better than 15+……………….. He may not be a starter for long if he can’t get out of the early innings. I like him. ……… He can’t sneak up on anyone this year …………….. Team added no speed……. no bat ……………. Freese is tippling……… where you going to get run support?…………….. what did Lynn have ….+5 or something ……….. don’t see it. …..another thing…… way Beltran goes by the break if this team is 7 back………… he will ask for a trade…..they will avoid that…………….. NL is tougher……..central is tougher…….. Brewers are still waiting on Lohse………..

            • blingboy says:

              “……… where you going to get run support?…………….. ”

              Westy, the Cards O proved it can score runs. Scoring them in the clutch, tight games, was another matter. Adding a bat would not necessarily cure that problem.

              You also need to factor in the pen. It sucked for a good part of the year, and should be substantially better this time.

              Also to be factored in is that the team, players and staff, has had a year to settle into the post-Tony/Schmalbert new world order.

        • blingboy says:

          If Lynn is the same as last year, no improvement, he will still do ok. Jake was likely signed to hold down the 3 spot in Garcia’s absense behind Carp and Wainy so the young guys can ride the gravy train at the bottom of the order. Smart.

          In addition, the pen will be of more help than it was early last season and there is no reason to expect Lynn to stop getting better.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            1 Wainwright, 2 Carpenter, 3 Lynn, 4 Miller, 5 Westbrook. The Cards may start Jake 3rd early in the season owing to his seniority, but he’s our 5th guy and Jumbo is hoping for about 12 wins out of him and 190 innings.
            We could use strong seasons out of Lynn and Miller, because Wainwright and Carpenter seem a little iffy.

        • blingboy says:

          Speaking of the pen, Sanchez’s results in Venezuela do not suggest he will be a factor. Its too bad, but I’m losing hope he will survive the shoulder injury. Let’s hope Garcia will be more fortunate.

          • Brian Walton says:

            The perception of Lynn’s improvement in 2013 may depend on the criteria used. Wins can be a fickle measure.

            • blingboy says:

              I am not sure about the arguements for and against improvement as the season wore on. The whole thing is overlain with the fatigue factor, mental and physical. There is no reason to think he will not be better prepared to deal with that his second year in the rotation.

              IMO, there can be no arguing his improvement from year to year. In 2013 his stats (WHIP, H/9, HR/9, BB/9, K/9, K/BB) all either showed some improvement or at least stayed the same as his numbers in AAA,. And he did it in the bigs, while carrying a workload heavier than he had yet done. Since the step up from AAA to ML is huge, I consider the year to year improvement equally huge.

              While regression after a strong first year is not unheard of, I can think of no reason he should not be expected to continue the upward trajectory year to year. I also think it is very encouraging that he came on strong after his 3 week breather in the pen. Being an all-star, he was certainly not sneaking up on anybody by that point.

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