(BaseballStL) -- In the top of the second inning Friday, the Padres’ Rymer Liriano ripped a shot that ricocheted off Cardinal pitcher Lance Lynn’s right shin and skipped into right center field for a single.
Lynn, 6-5 and 240 pounds, winced once, then never changed facial expression.
“It [ticked] me right off is what it did,” Lynn said of the shot to the leg. “Got a guy I’ve never seen before, wasn’t expecting him to swing and he hit a ball off my shin and I didn’t like it.”
He shook off any aid from the trainer, took his place on the mound and finished that inning and four more en route to the Cards 4-2 victory over San Diego.
That episode is, in many ways, allegorical of Lynn’s 2014 season; no run support, many squandered opportunities, drilled by line drives - it doesn’t matter. He just keeps pitching.
“I think everybody kind of understands how good Lance is,” Kolten Wong said after the game. “He goes out there every time and battles and always gives us solid starts. When you have a pitcher like that it definitely increases the morale of the team and makes us want to continue to play well.”
When he was done, Lynn had yet another quality start (his 16th on the year), six innings, six scattered hits and one earned run as the Cards clung to a 3-1 lead.
Lynn has been the steadiest pitcher on the Cardinal staff in the second half of the season without question.
Since July 1, he is 5-2 with an ERA of less than 2.0. But he deserves better. At one point, his ERA over three starts was 1.40 but he was 0-2 with a no decision. In those three starts, the Redbirds scored a total of just three runs for him. He doesn’t focus on the aggravations, however, something he says is key to his continued success.
“There’s a fine line between being productively emotional and being unproductively emotional,” Lynn said. “I feel like I’ve found that line and stayed on the right side of it.”
For the year, Lynn is 13-8 with an ERA of 2.91. His WHIP is the lowest of his three years as a starter, testament to his ability to get his walks under control. He fans nearly one man an inning and surrenders less than one home run every two games.
His whole career has been an exercise is unnoticed achievement. He’s 46-26 in three years as a Redbird, including an 18-7 mark in 2012 when he was an All Star. In every sabermetric category, he excels. His wins above replacement is over two this year and nearly seven for his career. He holds teams to a half run less than they normally score. He has surrendered 18 fewer runs than a replacement, further evidence of his high value.
“I thought I was pretty [darn] good the last couple years; just had some bad luck,” he said.
All of Lynn’s production comes for the near-league-minimum contract of $535,000. If there’s a better bargain in baseball, it would be hard to imagine.