Lance Lynn has performed on the biggest stage in baseball, and won. In signing him, the Twins won in a lot of ways as well. In fact, I think this may be the best deal all around that anyone could have asked for.
When I say Lynn has won on baseball’s biggest stage, I mean he has pitched twice in the World Series, and his team won it in 2011. That year, the Cardinals used him in relief, and he only pitched 5.2 innings, facing 26 batters. He did give up seven hits and four runs to the Rangers, but he took home a pitcher win (worthless stat alert!). He also pitched in the 2013 World Series, picking up a loss in his two appearances. He started one game, and also pitched in relief later in the series, which Boston ultimately won. He’s made six appearances in divisional series games, and ten appearances in championship series games. Oh, and if you’re wondering, he has a 0.00 ERA in wild card games, but that was only for one out, so... sample sizes. Overall, in the playoffs, Lynn has a 4.50 ERA, 8.7 K/9, and 1.577 WHIP. That accounts for 232 batters faced, and while the numbers aren’t great, I think that might be the most important fact.
As of now, the rest of the Twins projected starting rotation is Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, and Kyle Gibson. Those guys have faced a total of 126 batters in the postseason, with 112 of those by Santana, and 14 by Berrios. All of Berrios’ experience came in last season’s ill-fated Wild Card game against the Yankees, while Santana earned most of his playoff experience with the Angels in the beginning of his career. Santana has a career postseason ERA of 6.57, and even if you take out the 18.00 performance in the Wild Card, Lynn has still outperformed him in the playoffs. By adding Lynn to this cast, the Twins have gained a lot of experience.
For a young team looking to jump through a window that is just opening, I think signing Lance Lynn is huge. There is an old phrase “act like you’ve been there.” Adding a guy who has been there should absolutely help the guys who haven’t. Not only has Lynn performed well in the playoffs, he’s been on a staff with guys like Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, and Joe Kelly. Obviously, Santana is a consummate professional from all reports, and the younger guys on this team all seem to be dedicated to their craft. Adding a guy with those sort of influences, and that history should be able to help each and every one of them up their game in some way.
Lynn has always been a National League guy in his career, but his numbers last year would play as one of the best pitchers on that Twins team. By ERA, innings pitched, WHIP, and hits per nine, he would have been our number two guy, and by K/9, he would have been third. If we take out the difference in leagues, and only look at the five inter-league games he started, he still posted a 4.25 ERA, 1.517 WHIP, and a 7.0 K/9. Those numbers are still as good or better than most of the pitchers who started on the 2017 Twins. Even better, in 24 career inter-league games, his ERA is 3.58, WHIP is 1.359, and k/9 is 8.1. Those numbers are absolutely fantastic for a #3 pitcher, which is what the Twins are asking him to be, behind Santana and Berrios.
Lynn has never, in his entire career, posted a season ERA above 3.97, and never pitched fewer than 175.0 innings in a full season. Coming off Tommy John’s surgery, and an entire missed season in recovery, Lynn held a 3.43 ERA over 186.0 innings in 2017. Most commonly, the second season after TJS is where a guy is back to “normal,” which in my opinion should be enough to offset changing leagues in Lynn’s case. Twins fans are likely to compare him to two other free agent signings who spent most of their career in the NL before pitching poorly with the Twins; Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey. Nolasco signed with the Twins coming off a career-best 3.70 ERA, but prior to that, had generally posted ERA’s closer to 5.00 than 4.00. He performed a bit worse in Minnesota, but not drastically so. Pelfrey, meanwhile, had an up-and-down career with the Mets, but his ERA was over 4.70 more often than not. His performance in Minnesota was actually within his career norms. Long story short, we can expect Lynn to be better than either of these guys.
ZiPS projects Lynn to post a 3.82 ERA in 2018, with a 7.69 K/9 in 169 innings pitched. I think these numbers are pretty reasonable, but there is a good chance we could get something even better. If the Twins paid $12 million, and get a 3.50 ERA, 8.0 K/9, and 1.3 WHIP, that is an incredible value. In fact, even if Lynn regresses a bit, and posts a 4.0 ERA, 7.0 K/9, and 1.6 WHIP, I still think the Twins got a steal. They took advantage of the market to add a piece for a playoff run, with incredible playoff experience, good numbers in his career and last season, decent AL numbers (in a small sample,) and didn’t block any prospects in the process. Derek, Thad, if you are reading this, give yourselves a hand. This fan is a big supporter of this move.
For Lynn, he got a decent contract in a down off season. Most projections had him landing a contract with an AAV between $12 and $16 million, and he hit that number, albeit on the lower end. They also projected him to get a few more years, but in this offseason, it makes sense to bet on yourself and see what you can do next season.
The biggest winner in all in this, I think, are the Twins fans. We get to watch a very good pitcher pushing our team into a playoff run. Even without a true ace, I’d put this rotation up against at least 25 of the 30 teams in the league, from top to bottom, and I think we come away winning at least three of five. This should be a fun, fun year to be a Twins fan!
What do you think of the Lance Lynn signing
This poll is closed
Awesome, this is the last piece we needed!
It’ll help, but I preferred someone else
Meh, Doesn’t matter
Pretty Apprehensive, let’s see what happens
I hate it! Biggest waste of money since Joe Mauer