Game 2 Starter Lance Lynn: Fastball Devil The Pirates Know

Hello again, Lance Lynn. NLDS Game 2 represents the 10th time Lynn has started against the Pirates since the start of the 2012 season, providing a familiar face and arm for Pittsburgh’s attempt to even up the playoff series.

The Bucs have produced many runs against the Cardinals’ right-handed starter in that timespan: in 50.1 innings, Lynn has posted a 5.19 ERA despite 54 strikeouts and 21 walks. Beyond the results, simply facing a familiar pitcher can provide the Pirates a small advantage between two evenly matched teams.

“As a hitter, the unknown is sometimes a difficult thing,” second baseman Neil Walker said. “Seeing guys’ fastballs out of their hands, seeing the breaking ball… [but] we’re not banking on that.”

Make no mistake: Lance Lynn is a quality starter for St. Louis in Game 2: His 3.38 FIP over the last two seasons is better than that of other strong NL pitchers like Jordan Zimmermann and Mat Latos.

“With Lance you know you’re going to be challenged with fastballs, especially early on,” Walker said. “He’s going to be mixing in his breaking ball and changeup over the course of the game.”

Starting Fast

Lynn, 26, threw the most fastballs of any National League starter this season, using it on 73 percent of his pitches according to FanGraphs. He is right to do so, as the fastball averages 92.5 miles per hour to put him in the top-third of NL starting pitcher velocity. The Pirates should expect about two four-seam fastballs for every sinker.

Secondary pitches like Lynn’s cutter and curveball are mixed in, as is a rare changeup. What is unusual about Lynn is that his breaking balls are not much more a “put-away” pitch than his fastball.

Lance Lynn Whiff Rate By Pitch (2012-13)

  • Four-Seam: 11.7%
  • Sinker: 7.6%
  • Curveball: 11.3%
  • Cutter: 14%

The goal for Lynn is to place his fastball on the edges and get called strikes. It is command, not control, that is key for Lynn. His 9-percent walk rate is actually rather high among starting pitchers, but the effectiveness and strikeout rate come from hitters choosing wrong and earning a strike three call.

Pittsburgh’s Game 2 lineup features the regular three left-handed hitters: Neil Walker, Justin Morneau and Pedro Alvarez. The Pirates continue to be much better against lefties (one of the league’s best offensive teams) than against righties.

Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte are known fastball-killers who would be ready for four-seamers, despite McCutchen’s 10 strikeouts and .385 OPS in 26 at-bats against Lynn.

Small sample size and all that. But the playoffs are all about small-sample success.

Share This Article

James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

What Kind of Pressure Will Gerrit Cole Have as a Rookie in the Playoffs?

Next Story »

Pirates Beat the Cardinals 7-1 to Even the Series

Latest Analysis

  • Jung-ho Kang signing autographs.

    Q&A: Will Jung-ho Kang’s Presence Create Issues in the Pirates Dugout?

    2 hours ago

    Every Friday we run a Q&A with questions that I’ve received throughout the week. You can submit your questions all week by using the Q&A form on the ...

    Read More
  • Austin Meadows

    Austin Meadows Lowered His Hand Position to Add More Power

    1 day ago

    Ever since he was drafted, Austin Meadows was regarded as a prospect with power that you could dream about. He drew comps to Jay Bruce in the ...

    Read More
  • Tarpley Brault

    Will the Snider Trade Result in the Pirates Finally Having a Left-Handed Starting Prospect?

    2 days ago

    Despite adding plenty of pitching through the draft over the last several years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been short on the amount of quality left-handed pitching in their ...

    Read More
  • Connor Joe 2

    Meet Connor Joe: The First Round Pick You Know Nothing About

    2 days ago

    This site is now in its seventh year of existence. For the last four years, I’ve been doing this full-time, allowing me to see every affiliate throughout the year, along ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    What is the Difference Between Mel Rojas and Keon Broxton?

    3 days ago

    Mel Rojas Jr. was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round of the 2010 MLB draft. The son of the former big league closer had ...

    Read More
  • Jose Tabata

    The Details of Jose Tabata’s New Swing

    4 days ago

    On Friday I wrote about how Jose Tabata talked to Marlon Byrd over the off-season, aimed at changing his swing to add some leverage, lift the ball, ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles