Lance Lynn

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Michael Lance Lynn

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Biographical Information[edit]

Lance Lynn was a supplemental first-round pick in the 2008 amateur draft who made his major league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011.

Lynn helped Brownsburg, Indiana make it to the 1999 Little League World Series. He hit .509 with 14 homers as a high school junior; on the mound, he was 10-3 with 3 saves, a 1.26 ERA and 160 strikeouts in 100 innings. He was All-State for Indiana. In 2005, the senior went 16-0 with 2 saves and a 0.71 ERA and batted .400 with 14 long balls. Baseball America named him as a third-team All-American high school utility man, behind first-teamers Colby Rasmus and Zach Putnam and second-teamers Buster Posey and Jordan Schafer. He was All-State, won the Gatorade Player of the Year award for Indiana, and was the recipient of the Indiana Mr. Baseball Award. His school became the second in Indiana history to go unbeaten, following one led by Don Mattingly in the 1970s. Overall, he had gone 39-4 with a 1.10 ERA and 455 strikeouts in 288 IP in high school and batted .479 with 92 RBI. The Seattle Mariners took him in the 6th round of the 2005 amateur draft but he decided to go on to college.

Lynn was 7-3 as a freshman at the University of Mississippi in 2006. In 2007, the big sophomore set an Ole Miss strikeout record by whiffing 146 in 123 1/3 innings. He went 8-5 with a 2.85 ERA. Lynn was 5th in the Southeastern Conference in ERA, second to David Price in strikeouts and third in opponent average (.209). Lynn was 5th in NCAA Division I in strikeouts, trailing Price, Brian Matusz, Wes Roemer and Preston Guilmet.

Lynn was chosen for Team USA's college edition. He was 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA on the summer, allowing only 12 hits in 25 innings. In the 2007 Pan American Games, he allowed 5 hits and 3 runs in 7 innings in his lone start, a 8-4 win over Nicaragua. The USA won Silver in the event. Lynn left the team partway through the summer due to fatigue concerns and missed the 2007 World Port Tournament.

Lynn was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 39th pick of the 2008 amateur draft; the pick was compensation for the loss of Troy Percival to free agency. He was signed by scout Jay Catalano and made his pro debut with the Batavia Muckdogs on June 21 and worked two innings against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, walking one and striking out one while allowing no hits or runs.

Lynn was called up to the majors on June 2, 2011 to make an emergency start for the Cardinals. Working on short rest, he was very efficient, needing only 52 pitches to get through the first five innings, but got in trouble in the 6th. He left having given up 5 runs on 4 hits and a hit batsman in 5 1/3 innings and was charged with his team's 12-7 loss to the San Francisco Giants; one of the hits he gave up was the first of three homers Aubrey Huff would hit that day. Teammate Maikel Cleto also made his major league debut in that game. Lynn made 18 appearances for the Cardinals in 2011, including 2 starts, putting up a 3.12 ERA while giving up only 25 hits in 34 2/3 innings, and striking out 40. His record was 1-1, with a save. He was a key man out of the bullpen during the Cards' surprising run to a World Series title, making 10 relief appearances in the postseason. He won Game 2 of the NLCS against the Milwaukee Brewers, and Game 3 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers. He had one of his rare difficult outings in Game 6, when he gave up 3 runs on a pair of homers - to Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz - in an inning and two-thirds; that placed the Cardinals in a 7-4 hole with 3 innings left to play, but the Cardinals mounted a remarkable comeback, staving elimination and sparing him the loss. He pitched 11 innings overall, with a 3.27 ERA during the postseason.

In 2012, following the departure of Edwin Jackson via free agency, he was moved to the starting rotation. He made the Cards' brass appear like geniuses when he won his first four starts in emphatic fashion by giving up only 4 earned runs and 16 hits over his first 27 innings. On May 7th, he was at 6-0 with a 1.48 ERA. On June 13th, he became the second 10-game winner in the major leagues, moments after R.A. Dickey of the Mets. That win was another gem, a 1-0 combined shutout of the Chicago White Sox during which he matched a career high with 12 strikeouts. That brought his record to 10-2, 2.42, with over one strikeout per inning. He made the All-Star team (but did not play in the All-Star Game), but was noticeably less effective in the second half, finishing the year at 18-7, 3.78 after spending some time in the bullpen, which is where he was placed for the postseason. He was 4th in the National League in wins, between Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels. He was also among the leaders in strikeouts per 9 innings (9.2, behind Gio Gonzalez and Jeff Samardzija) as well as tying Carlos Zambrano for fifth in hit batsmen (10). He did lead the Cardinals in wins, however, then won Game 2 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals when he relieved an injured Jaime Garcia and pitched 3 innings in a 12-4 win. He was charged with the Cards' loss in Game 4, also in relief, then moved back to the starting rotation in the NLCS, when it turned out that Garcia's injury was of the season-ending variety. He gave up 4 runs in 3 2/3 innings in Game 1, but St. Louis still managed to beat the San Francisco Giants, 6-4, then gave up another 4 runs in as many innings in Game 5, and this time was charged with the 5-0 loss.

In 2013, he started the season in dominant form for the second straight year. On May 1st, he improved to 5-0 in beating the Cincinnati Reds, 4-2. It was his 10th straight win in the regular season, dating back to 2012. He was the first pitcher to five wins in the National League and had an ERA of 2.75 in 36 innings. He went 15-10 in 33 starts during the season, putting up a 3.97 ERA in 201 2/3 innings. In spite of being a workhorse started during the season, and finishing 6th in the NL in wins, he was on the bubble for the Cardinals' starting rotation during the postseason. He was hit hard in a 7-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 2 of the NLDS, but then was a winner in extra innings in a relief appearance in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 11th. He came in the top of the 12th with the score tied at 2-2, and put a couple of runners on but was bailed out by a double play grounder; he then pitched a perfect 13th inning and got the W when Carlos Beltran drove in Daniel Descalso with the winning run in the bottom of the inning. He later started Game 4 and pitched into the 6th inning, giving up a pair of runs, to earn a 4-2 win. In the World Series, he lost Game 4, 4-2, when he gave up 3 runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Boston Red Sox, then relieved a struggling Michael Wacha with two outs in the 4th in Game 6. However, he gave up a pair of singles and a walk without retiring anyone, and the Sox's lead had increased from 4-0 to an insurmountable 6-0 before Seth Maness got the last out.

Lynn won his first four starts of the season in 2014 to improve to 12-0 lifetime during March and April. The winning streak ended on April 24th when he was charged with a 4-1 loss to the New York Mets in spite of allowing only 2 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. On May 27th, he pitched the first complete game of his career when he hurled a 6-0 shutout over the New York Yankees at home to improve to 6-2 on the year. On June 13th, he came out on top of a great pitchers' duel with Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals, holding his opponents scoreless over 8 innings as the Cards won, 1-0, on a solo homer by Matt Adams in a game in which there were only 5 hits. For the second straight season, he finished the year with a record of 15-10, and his ERA was down by more than a full run, to 2.74. He made a pair of starts in the postseason but was involved in the decision in neither, as he allowed 4 runs in 11 2/3 innings. In 2015, his record was only 12-11, even though his ERA was solid once again, at 3.03 and the Cardinals put up the best record in the major leagues. Pitching through pain for a good part of the year, he only logged 175 1/3 innings in 31 starts, after topping 200 the previous two seasons. He was passed over in the Cards' starting rotation against the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS and was only used for an inning of relief in which he gave up a run as the Cardinals were upset.

Lynn underwent Tommy John surgery following the 2015 postseason, putting him out for all of 2016. He came back in 2017 to make a National League-leading 33 starts, ending up 11-8, 3.43 while logging 186 1/3 and striking out 153 batters. He became a free agent after the season and while his numbers should have made him a hot property, he was caught in the glacial market affecting free agents that winter. He only signed on March 10, 2018 when he agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins for $12 million. Results with Minnesota weer not that great, as in 20 starts he went 7-8 with a 5.10 ERA. Meanwhile, the team as a whole disappointed and it soon became clear that there was little chance of returning to the postseason that year. As the trading deadline approached, the Twins dealt a number of veterans including Lynn who was sent to the New York Yankees on July 30th in return for 1B Tyler Austin and P Luis Rijo. With the Yankees, he was expected to be used as a long reliever and serve as an insurance policy if a starter went down to injury. His first outing came in relief, but he was quickly tagged to replace an ineffective Sonny Gray in the rotation. His first start on August 6th was outstanding as he held the Chicago White Sox scoreless into the 8th inning in a 7-0 Yankees win. He retired 19 straight batters at one point. he went 3-2, 4.14 in 11 games - 9 starts - for the Yankees, then was used out of the bullpen in the postseason. He had a good outing in Game 1 of the Division Series, when he pitched 2 scoreless innings in relief of J.A. Happ and Chad Green in a 5-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox, but in the pivotal Game 3, things went sour as he replaced a shaky Luis Severino in the 4th inning, as he had allowed the first three batters of the inning tor each base, loading the bases with New York already down 3-0. Lance could not pull off a miracle however; he walked the first man he faced, Mookie Betts, to force in a run, than allowed a bases-clearing double to the next batter, Andrew Benintendi. By the time the inning ended, Green had replaced him on the mound and the Yankees were down, 10-0, on their way to losing the game 16-1. They never recovered from that beating.

Lynn became a free agent after the 2018 season. On December 12th, he signed a three-year contract with the Texas Rangers worth $30 million. It unexpectedly turned out to be one of the best signings of the off-season as Lynn had a great first half in 2019, going 11-4, 3.91 in 18 starts. He then had his best game of the year in his first start after the All-Star break, on July 11th, as he defeated the Houston Astros, 5-0, striking out 11 batters in 7 innings. His 12th win made him the major league leader in the category, and his performance was one of the major reasons the Rangers were in the thick of the race for a wild card slot. He finished the year at 16-11, 3.67 in 33 starts and 208 1/3 innings, striking out 246 batters. He had another good year during the abbreviated 2020 season, as he went 6-3, 3.32 in a league-leading 13 starts, also leading the American League with 84 innings pitched and striking out 85 batters. His name had circulated at the trading deadline in both 2019 and 2020 but no deal was consummated those two years. However, on December 7, 2020, a taker was found as the Chicago White Sox agreed to give up two top pitching prospects, Dane Dunning and Avery Weems, to acquire Lance.

On April 8, 2021, he pitched the first shutout of the major league season in a 6-0 win over the Kansas City Royals; he allowed just 5 hits, walked none and struck out 11 opponents in a great performance. It was a harbinger of things to come, as he had a great first half, going 9-3, 1.99 in 16 starts. This got him his second invitation to the All-Star Game, 9 years after his first appearance back in 2012. He pitched one scoreless inning in the game played at Coors Field, then three days afterwards, the White Sox announced that he had been signed to a two-year extension worth $38 million. In Chicago, he was reunited with his first big league manager, Tony LaRussa, who had come out of retirement to lead the Pale Hose. On August 18th, he threw a tantrum at umpire Nic Lentz after he asked to see the pitcher's equipment as part of one the routine checks being performed on pitchers since June; Lynn had gone from the mound to the dugout at the end of the inning, without stopping for the check-up, and reacted by throwing his belt at the umpire, which resulted in his being ejected from the game. Late in the season, he dealt woth some inflammation in his right knee, missing two weeks of action in early September. He finished the season at 11-6, 2.69 in 28 starts, with 176 strikeouts in 157 innings. He was then tabbed to start Game 1 of the Division Series against the Houston Astros on October 7th, but things did not go well as he allowed 5 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks in 3 2/3 innings and was charged with his team's 6-1 loss.

Just before the start of the 2022 season, on April 3rd, the White Sox got some bad news as he was diagnosed with a torn tendon in his right knee, requiring surgery, an injury related to the one that had cost him a couple of weeks of action the previous season. He was expected not to do any throwing for four weeks, and then would need to work himself back into game shape, so a long absence was in the cards. He made his first start of the season on June 13th, but did not miss a turn the rest of the way, ending up with 21 starts and a record of 8-7, 3.99. On June 18, 2023, he tied a White Sox team record set by Jack Harshman back on July 25, 1954 by striking out 16 batters in a start against the Seattle Mariners. In spite of all the whiffs, he was charged with a 5-1 loss, reflecting a year in which he struggled more often than not: after 15 starts, his record was 4-8, 6.51. On July 28th, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Joe Kelly in return for OF Trayce Thompson and minor leaguers Jordan Leasure and Nick Nastrini. The White Sox were cleaning house in terms of veteran pitchers, having traded away Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López two days earlier, and Kendall Graveman the same day. He found new life on the West Coast as it took him just 9 starts to match his total of wins with Chicago - 6. He had also cut almost two full runs from his ERA, going from 6.47 with the Sox to 4.67 with the Dodgers.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time All-Star (2012 & 2021)
  • AL Innings Pitched Leader (2020)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 4 (2012-2014 & 2019)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (2013, 2014 & 2019)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2019)
  • Won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011


Further Reading[edit]

  • Rhett Bollinger: "Lynn jumps right in with competitive Twins: Minnesota introduces right-hander as newest member of rotation",, March 13, 2018. [1]
  • Thomas Harrigan: "How this veteran became an ace in his 30s",, August 3, 2020. [2]
  • Jenifer Langosch: "Lynn taking on mentor role in 2016: Righty pitched through pain, underwent Tommy John surgery in November",, February 29, 2016. [3]
  • Scott Merkin: "Lynn signs 2-year extension: 'The perfect fit'",, July 17, 2021. [4]
  • Scott Merkin: "Lynn to have right knee surgery, miss at least 4 weeks",, April 3, 2022. [5]
  • Juan Toribio: "Dodgers get Lynn, Kelly in trade with White Sox",, July 28, 2023. [6]
  • Juan Toribio: "Lynn fighting for big role in LA's postseason pitching plans",, September 19, 2023. [7]

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