It was no secret that the Twins wanted to improve their pitching staff this offseason. Their intentions were made clear when they bolstered the bullpen with Zach Duke, Addison Reed, and Fernando Rodney, and then weathered the loss of Ervin Santana by bringing in Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn. The collection of veterans had been a mixed bag, but no one had looked like a bigger (pun not intended) bust than Lynn.
Brought over as a free agent from the St. Louis Cardinals, Lynn was supposed to fill out the back end of the rotation and allow the Twins to give more minor league seasoning to guys like Adalberto Mejia. However, Lynn didn’t show much promise out of the gate, allowing 5 runs over 4 innings in his debut with 6 walks. His second start was better as he threw 5 scoreless innings against the Astros, though 9 strikeouts were accompanied by 4 more free passes. Lynn’s control continued to be a problem throughout April as he allowed 23 walks in 23 2⁄3 innings, letting a staggering 19.7% of batters reach via the base on balls. Along with a .287 batting average against, Lynn had an 8.37 ERA through the first month of the season.
It’s been a much different story since the calendar has switched to May, though. His control improved significantly as his May walk rate (8.6%) surpassed the league average (8.8%). It also helped that he allowed just one home run after serving up five in April, which allowed him to weather an opponent’s batting average of .295. Overall, it caused a 3.76 ERA, shaving two and a half runs off his season ERA.
This is certainly good news as Lynn’s walk rate in May is more in line with his rates from earlier in his career. Now, it appears the last thing he needs to do to get back on track is to stop being so hittable, as his season batting average is still at .291 after having a career average of .242.
While Lynn is still walking a tightrope, at least he’s near the end of the gap instead of being hung out to dry in the middle. His continued improvement has been a welcome sign for a team that already has improved to the middle of the pack in MLB.