(BaseballStL) — Lance Lynn was in familiar territory against Cincinnati a week ago. He went five innings, struck out seven and gave up eight hits.
Like many times last year, the bulk of the hits, and all three runs, came in one inning. The bottom of the first saw the Lynn surrender a double, a homer, another homer and a single before ending the damage.
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From there he scattered the remaining four hits, not surrendering another run.
Mike Matheny feels that despite the rocky start, his burly righty is moving in the right direction both physically and mentally.
“It’s early and he’s had one start. What we saw through spring was very very good,” he said. “Right now I think he’s in a good place in his mind. I like how his stuff looks and I think he’s a guy that just keeps getting better.”
Lynn has had flashes of brilliance throughout his career, and last year’s 8.8 K/9 rate (198 strikeouts in 201.2 innings) shows he can be a dominating pitcher. His 8.4 hits/9 and 3.4 BB/9 shows he can be unpredictable.
Some of that unpredictability has been attributed to his disposition on the mound. Lynn has been known to let frustration and anger show through while in the hill, and has drawn negative attention for it from fans and media alike. Whether or not his mood is a key factor in his production, the 26-year-old has worked to improve that aspect of his game, to the approval of the staff.
“I like where he is. We’ve given him so many different assignments as far as how he handles himself, his disposition on the mound and he’s always done exactly what we’ve asked, knowing that we’re trying to help him stay consistent,” Matheny said.
The Cardinal manager also pointed to Lynn’s age. While he may be older than the average age of the rotation, Lynn is still relatively green as a starter.
“He’s a younger pitcher than I think most of us consider. We see all these other brand new guys and forget that Lance hasn’t been around that long,” Matheny said. “He’s still learning and he’s learned the lessons he needs to get better.”
Lynn has only appeared in 87 games in his short career, starting 65 of them. Including his first start of 2014, he has gone 34-17 in his first three years as a member of the rotation, striking out 385 hitters. Taking out the numbers for his sole start in 2014, his WHIP is about 1.31. It’s not a bad way to begin a career, and now Matheny believes that career is about to take flight.
“I think he’s found that pitcher he should be on the mound including his stuff,” he said. ”He’s learned a lot about himself.”
Tuesday, Lynn will get a chance to show how he uses that knowledge.