San Diego Padres: Jordan Lyles Surprises Against Cardinals
By Nick Stevens
San Diego Padres RHP Jordan Lyles transitioned from the bullpen to the starting rotation last night and pitched surprisingly well.
After seven disastrous starts for Brian Mitchell, the San Diego Padres finally made the decision to relegate him to the bullpen. Taking Mitchell’s place in the rotation, RHP Jordan Lyles, who put on an impressive showing on Thursday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Entering Thursday night’s game, many Padres’ fans seemed to lack much confidence in Lyles’ ability to produce as a starting pitcher for Andy Green. With a career earned run average over 5.30 and a career WHIP nearing 1.50, fans had every right to skeptical.
Originally planning to use Lyles for three-four innings, Green stretched him out to five innings after Lyles’ dominant four-inning streak to start the game.
His final line against the Cardinals: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER (one earned), 1 BB, 6 K.
The switch from Mitchell to Lyles appeared to many to be a lateral move, replacing one pitcher who can’t find the strike zone with one pitcher who struggles to keep runners off the basepaths. Surprisingly, it was Lyles’ performance on the mound that kept the Padres in a perfect position to win the game.
What worked well for Jordan Lyles?
The most impressive aspect of Thursday night’s outing was his curveball. According to Brooks Baseball.net, Lyles’ curveball produced a 22% whiff rate, largely due to the 84 mph average velocity.
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The only mistake came on an 83 mph curveball which Lyles left on the inner half of the plate against Tommy Pham. Pham deposited the Lyles pitch over the outfield wall to give the Cardinals 2-1 lead which they would not look back from.
If Lyles can work more up in the zone, his powerful curveball will generate many more swings and misses. He exhibited this perfectly against Jose Martinez. After working an 0-2 count, Lyles pumped a fastball high and inside. Martinez was ready to jump on it before jumping away from the pitch, obviously not expecting Lyles to throw the high heat. The very next pitch was a curveball which Lyles buried low and away, producing a big swing and miss by Martinez.
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Jordan Lyles is not the long-term solution to this rotation issue, however, he showed the organization and fans that he can come in and temporarily stop the bleeding. Luis Perdomo has been pitching very well in El Paso (minus a lot of home runs, but it’s El Paso) so he may be given another shot once we get into the dog-days of summer. There are also a plethora of other arms in El Paso who may be given a shot, should Lyles falter.
At the end of the day, we don’t have to watch Bryan Mitchell start a ball game. Now if only this offense could get work.