October 1, 2021: 5 IP, 4 H, R, ER, BB, 4 K
Lance allowed one run over five innings, striking out four and walking one, in the final start of his first regular season with the White Sox
|DOB:||5/12/1987||Agent:||Excel Sports Mgmt.|
|Birth City:||Indianapolis, IN|
|Draft:||Cardinals #1 (comp.) - 2008 - Out of Univ. of Miss.|
|2016||-||DL - Tommy John||$7,500.00|
In 1999, Lance was part of the Brownsburg Little League team from Brownsburg, Indiana that appeared in the Little League World Series. They won the Central Regional Championship in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
At Brownsburg High School in Indiana, Lance was teammate of fellow future Major League pitcher Drew Storen.
In 2005, after his senior year at Brownsburg High School, Lynn was drafted by the Mariners in the 6th round. But he did not sign, instead heading to the University of Mississippi.
Lance is quiet and reserved.
In 2008, Lance got drafted by the Cardinals (see Transactions below).
In 2009, Baseball America rated Lynn as the 15th-best prospect in the Cardinals' organization. In the winter before 2010 spring training, they had Lance all the way up to third best in the St. Louis farm system. He was at #6 in the spring of 2011. In the offseason before 2012 spring camps opened, they had Lynn as 7th-best prospect in the Cardinals farm system.
In 2009, Lynn finished among the Texas League leaders in most pitching categories, including third in ERA (2.92) and fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (7.0). That year, he was named the Cardinals' Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
In 2010, Lance married Lauren (Grill) Lynn. Lauren was a softball player at Ole Miss, where Lance played his college ball.
On MLB's Now You Know, he stated that if he was not a professional baseball player, he would be a UPS man.
- In 2013, Lynn landed at spring training 40 pounds lighter than he was the previous October. The scale read 239. That's a number Lynn hasn't checked in at since he was pitching for the Brownsburg High School in Indiana.
Upon returning to his home in Oregon in October, Lynn began what he now describes as a lifestyle change. The gym work wasn't drastically different, though Lynn did increase his workout days per week from four to six. He added some agility work to the schedule. But the greater emphasis was on nutrition.
The Cardinals sent a nutritionist to Lynn to help with the process of putting restrictions on a diet that Lynn had never previously thought much about. Lynn and his wife, Lauren, were instructed on what to cook, how to control portions, and what substitutions could be used to improve the health content of a dish.
Lynn is the Cardinals rotation misfit, of sorts, not all that interested in conformity or uniformity, but preferring to pitch uninhibited. The less he's noticed, the less he feels bombarded by opinions, the better positioned he believes he is for success.
"When you have the luxury of them letting them be yourself," Lynn said, "it's easier to find yourself. That's just the process of getting to know each other."
Lynn has spent the early years of his Major League career evolving through perpetual self-discovery. He pitched in relief as a rookie on a 2011 team managed by Tony La Russa. With the next season came a new manager, coaching staff and role. Lynn arrived at Spring Training told to prepare to pitch the eighth inning. He left as the team's fifth starter.
Lynn went on to win 18 games and earn an All-Star invite that season despite feeling "like I was behind that whole year and playing catch-up." Success rolled over into a 15-win season in 2013, though Lynn said he rarely felt comfortable.
First, Lynn was asked to temper his on-field emotions, as the Cards were concerned that his demeanor could be misinterpreted as disrespect shown toward an opponent, umpire or even teammates. Then there was a request to drop weight, something that left Lynn, in his opinion, without the strength to battle through the late summer months at his best.
It's been a few years of trial and error, as Lynn describes it, all leading to a 2014 season in which he now feels comfortable in his own skin. He's content breaking the mold and being left alone, the latter of which Lynn takes as an indication that the Cardinals believe he's earned himself some autonomy.
"Lance is a competitor, and he's getting better in a lot of facets," added manager Mike Matheny. "Sometimes that comes from some struggles."
"This game comes down to wins and losses," Matheny said. "That's what we're preaching in here. And a guy who finds a way to win, to me, needs to be given a lot of credit, because that's the ultimate goal for us. Whether you're getting a lot of support or throwing a shutout, one way or another, you're finding a way to get it done, and Lance has done that."
Lynn's objective now is to put more behind those wins and to give St. Louis another reliable six-month workhorse in the rotation. He has to prove himself ready to be left alone, capable of guiding his own career without interruption.
"When other teams see my name on the probables for today, I want to make them think, 'Hey, it's going to be a tough game,'" Lynn said. "And when our offense comes in, I want them to see that I'm pitching and believe they have a chance to win." (Langosch - mlb.com - 5/8/2014)
In 2016, Lynn will make $7.5 million without throwing a pitch, but he doesn't intend to be entirely absent. Lynn will rehab from his Tommy John surgery at Busch Stadium and plans to travel with the team during the second half of the season, once he has begun mound work again. In the meantime, he's taking time to teach.
Since turning a corner in his own career midway through the 2014 season, Lynn has become more comfortable in taking on the role of an extra instructor. Now, it's the most impactful use of his time. "Once you figure out what you're trying to do, it's easier to help out other people," Lynn said. "I think that's when it really started to click that, 'Hey, I can really help other people because I kind of have a clue what I'm trying to get done now.' That's just the learning process of figuring out who you are."
When Lynn has not been engrossed in his rehab work, he has been roaming the back fields of the Cardinals' complex, observing and advising. He has been offering Kevin Siegrist suggestions about how to throw his new breaking ball, and he spent a session working with Luke Weaver on his release point. Whenever he sees something notable, he speaks.
"He's been involved more, which I think comes with being a guy who understands that with time comes more expectation," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's no longer this young guy who is walking around soaking it all in. He's got to be on the other side. He's done a nice job. Really, it's a long process that he's in the middle of." (Langosch - MLB.com -3/1/2016)
July 4, 2017: Lynn isn't one of those pitchers who also shines at the plate. Entering a game against the Marlins at Busch Stadium, Lynn owned a career line of .086/.135/.115, having picked up 21 base hits in 244 official at-bats (140 of which ended in a strikeout). With that context, it becomes clear why Lynn decided to hit lefthanded for a game, something manager Mike Matheny informed the media.
Matheny added that he was impressed with the practice Lynn has put in over the past few weeks, eager to make a positive change in his offensive results.
Launch angle discussions aside, Lynn's first plate appearance as a lefty resulted in a sacrifice bunt . . . that was almost successful. It's a start. (Adrian Garro-Cut4)
The end came unceremoniously for Lance, with no staged sendoff or opportunity for the fans packing Busch Stadium to collectively acknowledge his contributions from the past seven seasons. He would have traded all that for a win, which, in losing to the Cubs, 2-1, the Cardinals couldn't pull off either. But there was a sense of finality.
Ten years after being plucked by the Cardinals as a first-round pick out of the University of Mississippi, Lynn made what was likely his final start for the organization on September 28, 2017. He has been adamant all of the 2017 season that he would welcome discussing an extension with the Cardinals, but such talks were never initiated by the organization. And so Lynn will join the pool of top free-agent pitchers this fall.
Asked if he had walked off the mound as a Cardinal for the final time, Lynn said: "It certainly looks that way." If so, he'll be remembered for being a rotation workhorse and an integral piece on so many playoff teams. He debuted in 2011 and went on to help the Cardinals win a World Series ring that year while pitching in relief. The organization slid him into the rotation the following season, and he promptly won 18 games. Lynn appeared on five playoff teams and is tied with Adam Wainwright for the most postseason appearances by a Cardinals pitcher. His five postseason wins rank third in franchise history.
"I hate to think that it is, but it's definitely a possibility," teammate Matt Carpenter said of Lynn's career in St. Louis coming to an end. "It's going to be different without having him around, a guy who we've seen put the jersey on for a long time and be a part of some really good teams dating back to when we came up in 2011. If he's not here, I hope he's in the American League and we don't have to face him."
This year represented one of Lynn's most impressive seasons, too. After a 17-month recovery from Tommy John surgery, Lynn returned to lead the rotation with 32 starts. He avoided the typical pitfalls pitchers face when returning from the same procedure, so much so that he saw his velocity go up in the season's final month.
Lynn's final start—a five-inning no-decision against the Cubs—was marred only by a home run. He was replaced by a pinch-hitter after throwing 86 pitches. "He's had a phenomenal season and has done a great job of taking away a lot of doubt that maybe even he had, not knowing how he was going to rebound from surgery," manager Mike Matheny said. "The way he's taken the ball, the way he has competed has been impressive."
Off the field, Lynn brought refreshing candor to the clubhouse. His post-game news conferences became must-see TV for his dry banter, and he took pride in non-conformity. His stubbornness fueled his competitiveness.
"I grew up here as a man, went through a lot of things personally and professionally," Lynn said. "I wouldn't trade any of them in for anything. The fans were great all the way through. When they booed me, it made me stronger. When they cheered me, it made me happy. I've been through a lot of things here in my six-plus years, and I don't regret any of them. When I could physically take the ball, I took it and did everything I could to help the team win." (Langosch - mlb.com - 9/28/2017)
Here’s how Lynn made the climb to ace status in 2019, and why he seems poised to retain that title moving forward.
His four-seamer became an elite weapon. Lynn may not throw 100 mph, but he did see a noticeable velocity bump last season, averaging 94.6 mph with his four-seam fastball. That number was 93.7 mph in 2018 and 92.4 mph in 2017.
Perhaps emboldened by the increase in velocity, he started throwing his four-seam fastball more—54.1% of the time. That was up from 44.9% in 2018 and 36.7% in 2017.
Lynn ended up leading MLB with 1,858 four-seamers thrown, and he fired a whopping 61.4% of them in the strike zone, the highest among all pitchers who threw at least 400 four-seamers. And yet, he still managed to miss plenty of bats. In fact, his whiff rate (misses/swings) on four-seamers placed him directly behind two of the most dominant starters in the game.
Highest whiff rate, SP, 2019 (min. 200 swings on four-seamers)
1. Gerrit Cole—37.6% 2. Justin Verlander—31.1% 3-T. Lance Lynn—30.7% 3-T. Jake Odorizzi—30.7%
5. Mike Clevinger—30.0%
Lynn’s 30.7% whiff rate on four-seamers was a dramatic increase over his mark from 2015-2018, when he had a 26.3% whiff rate with the pitch while averaging 93 mph.
Lynn’s reliance on his four-seam fastball has been even more pronounced so far in 2020. Through his first two starts, his four-seamer usage rate is 64.8%. Hitters have gone 2-for-26 (.077), with 12 strikeouts in 30 plate appearances ending on Lynn’s four-seamer.
In recent years, we’ve seen an MLB-wide reduction in two-seamer/sinker usage, dropping from a 20.3% rate in 2016-2017 to 19.2% in 2018, 16.0% in 2019 and 14.5% in 2020 (so far). Lynn has mirrored this pattern.
In 2017, Lynn’s sinker was an effective pitch, as he held batters to a .252 average and a .371 slugging percentage with it while throwing it 42.6% of the time. Although it was far less reliable the following season, yielding a .310 average and a .419 slugging percentage, Lynn still threw it on nearly a third of his offerings (32.5%).
Lance continued to struggle with the pitch in 2019, allowing hitters to post a .325 average with a .470 slugging percentage, but his usage rate dropped to just 17.2%, mitigating the damage.
Through two starts in 2020, he has thrown only 14 total sinkers for a scant usage rate of 6.7%. Throwing fewer sinkers has especially helped Lynn against lefthanded batters, who had an .828 OPS with only 107 Ks in 693 total plate appearances against the righty over 2017-2018—a span in which they hit .314 with a .494 slugging percentage against his sinker. Since the beginning of 2019, lefty hitters own a .691 OPS with 112 strikeouts in 491 PAs against Lynn.
While the reduction in sinkers in favor of more four-seamers and cutters has led to a rise in whiffs and strikeouts for Lynn, it also predictably has caused his ground-ball rate to drop from 47.5% over 2017-18 to 40.1% since the start of ’19. However, the increase in air balls hasn’t coincided with a rise in homers. Even with long ball rates skyrocketing around the Majors, Lynn allowed just 21 homers in 208 1/3 innings (0.9 HR/9) last season, and he hasn’t given up one in 2020.
Interestingly, while Lynn has followed a trend in throwing fewer sinkers, he hasn’t done the same with the MLB-wide increase in breaking balls over the past few years. Lynn throws one breaking ball, a low-80s curve, and his usage rate on the pitch held steady between 2018 (9.1%) and 2019 (9.5%), even as his curveball limited hitters to a .170 average with a .241 slugging percentage while generating a 36.4% whiff rate in that span. The righty has tallied seven swinging strikes and two K’s on his 14 curveballs in 2020.
So, how does a pitcher who threw a fastball (four-seamer, sinker, cutter) over 87% of the time in 2019 manage to keep hitters off balance?
He has mastered the art of tunneling. As MLB.com’s Matt Kelly pointed out last August, Lynn’s breakout was sparked by his ability to “tunnel” his pitches, which means throwing two different pitches on the same trajectory long enough that they look nearly identical at the point a hitter needs to make a decision whether to swing or take.
According to the Baseball Prospectus tunneling metrics, Lynn had MLB’s fifth-lowest average pre-tunnel maximum distance, the perceived distance between back-to-back pitches from a hitter’s point of view, and he tied for the second-lowest pre-tunnel max time, a stat that shows when the second pitch in a pitch pairing is at its greatest perceived distance from the one preceding it. (For both of these stats, the lower the number, the better.)
So while Lynn changed speeds and locations with his three fastballs, his tunneling made it difficult for hitters to tell each pitch apart at the decision point. (Thomas Harrigan - Aug. 4, 2020)
July 2021: Lynn was chosen to pitch in the All-Star Game.
June 2008: Lance signed with scout Jay Catalano of the Cardinals for a bonus of $938,000. Lynn was taken in the first round (#39th overall), a compensation first round pick, out of the University of Mississippi.
January 15, 2015: Lance and the Cardinals agreed to a three-year, $22 million contract. Lynn gets $7 million for 2015 and $7.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Plus incentives for the number of starts he makes.
November 2, 2017: Lance elected free agency.
March 10, 2018: Lynn signed a one-year contract with the Twins, for $12 million, plus incentives.
July 30, 2018: The Twins traded Lynn and cash to the Yankees for RHP Luis Rijo and 1B Tyler Austin.
October 29, 2018: Lance chose free agency.
December 12, 2018: The Rangers agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal with Lynn.
Dec 8, 2020: The Rangers traded Lynn to the White Sox for LHP Avery Weems and RHP Dane Dunning.
- July 17, 2021: Lynn, who would have been a free agent after the 2021 season and is currently pitching on a three-year, $30 million deal agreed upon with the Rangers, will be lending his assistance in Chicago for the foreseeable future. Under terms of his two-year, $38 million extension, Lynn earns $18.5 million in both 2022 and 2023. The White Sox hold an $18 million option for 2024.
Lynn has an 88-93 mph two-seam heavy-sinking FASTBALL; a 91-98 mph four-seamer that he uses frequently; and a CUTTER. Lance also has an 11-to-5 CURVEBALL at 73-75 mph; a slick 78 mph sharp SLIDER; and a CHANGEUP.
Lance attacks hitters with his fastball and wide assortment of pitches that make him a difficult matchup for both righthanded and lefthanded hitters. His fastball has late life, and his curve is a hard, sharp pitch that is a second above average pitch.
2015 Season Pitch Usage: (Any of his) Fastball(s): 56.6% of the time; Sinker 27.5% of the time; Change 3.1%; Slider Curve 4.8%; and Cutter 7.9% of the time.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: Did not pitch in the Majors.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball(s): 39.9% of the time; Sinker 41.2% of the time; Change 2.6%; Slider Curve .6%; and Cutter 11.3% of the time.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 54.2% of the time, his Sinker 17.2%; Change 2.9%; Curve 9.6%; and Cutter 16.2% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.9 mph, Sinker 93.2, Change 87.2, Curve 81.4, and Cutter 89.3 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 49% of the time, his Sinker 18.5%; Change less than 1%; Slider 2%; Curve 8%; and Cutter 21.8% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.6 mph, Sinker 92.4, Change 83.9, Slider 86.6, Curve 83.8, and Cutter 90.1 mph.
He has command of all four of his pitches. Consistency is the bedrock of his game, and he relies on his defense with about half of the balls put in play against him being ground balls.
- Lynn has a naturally hulking body at 6-feet-5 and about 250 pounds. His size alone makes him an intimidating presence coming from a solid downhill plane. And it also helps make him durable.
Lance does little to attempt masking his frustrations on the mound. He gets hit around when he loses command of his fastball. And when the manager comes to take him out of the game, many times his frustration for being removed is apparent. He will yell, stalk around to the back of the mound, and head for the dugout in disgust.
"I'm not happy when I come out of a game, ever," Lynn asserted. "That's just part of being a competitor. If you want out of a game, you shouldn't be here."
On May 27, 2014, in his 147th professional start, his 75th in the Majors, Lynn held the Yankees to five hits and threw his first career shutout.
2015 Improvements: Lynn's participation in a spring training game was less about proving his health and more about getting another spring tune-up. And in the process, Lynn flaunted a new pitch that he hopes to feature regularly this season.
Lynn, who had immediate success in the Majors while relying on a fastball-heavy repertoire, showcased his improving changeup.
June 27, 2018: Lance recorded career strikeout No. 1,000 with his strikeout of Abreu in the fifth inning. He's the only active Twins pitcher who has reached that milestone.
2019-2020 Seasons: Lynn is coming off a two-year stint with the Rangers in which he completely redefined his career. Since the start of the 2019 season, Lynn has maintained his characteristic reliability, leading all MLB pitchers in innings and tying Aaron Nola for the most starts (46). But he’s also tied for fifth in strikeouts (with Max Scherzer), 10th in ERA+, and second in both bWAR and wins above average over that span.
The one-time afterthought has now finished fifth and sixth in AL Cy Young voting in the past two seasons.
- April 3, 2021: Angels 5, White Sox 3—Lynn falls just short of 100. Lance entered his White Sox debut with a streak of 37 straight starts in which he threw at least 100 pitches. It's a testament to his true desire to consistently work deep into games. But that streak came to an end against the Angels when Lynn was lifted in the fifth after walking Anthony Rendon on pitch No. 99.
As of the start of the 2022 season, Lance had a 115-77 career record, a 3.48 ERA, having allowed 152 home runs and 1,435 hits in 1,583 innings.
August 2008: Lance was on the D.L. with forearm stiffness.
Aug 10-Oct 9, 2011: Lynn was on the D.L. with a strained left oblique muscle.
March 8, 2015: Lynn suffered a hip flexor strain, and had to leave the exhibition game after three batters.
June 10-25, 2015: Lance was on the D.L. with a forearm strain.
November 10, 2015: Lynn had Tommy John surgery and had bone chips removed from his elbow.
And he missed the entire 2016 season.
Nov 4, 2016: Lynn was activated from the D.L.
April 18-May 1, 2021: The White Sox placed Lynn on the 10-day injured list with a strained right trapezius.
- Aug. 29-Sept 10, 2021: Lynn was placed on the 10-day IL with right knee inflammation.