Cardinals’ Tyler Lyons Needs to Find Balance Between Extremes


Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

After putting together a very nice start in his 2014 big-league debut earlier this week against the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Tyler Lyons had a less impressive outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, giving up four earned runs in six innings. In a frustrating turn of events, the 26-year-old lefthander showed that he still has not figured out how to be consistently effective.

If you’re looking for a pitcher who delivers performances on completely opposite ends of the spectrum, Lyons is probably your guy. He’s now started 10 big-league games; in two of them he’s gone seven innings and allowed just one run, and in another six he’s given up at least four earned runs, four of which he has failed to last six innings in. This trend even extends to his minor league starts this year, as he sandwiched a rough outing with five earned runs in between two starts where he gave up just one.This is extremely frustrating for anyone who’s seen Lyons go out there start after start, because it’s clear to see the potential is there for him to be really good.  At the same time though, he can’t fill the ideal role of a fifth starter who simply keeps his team in the game every fifth day; if Lyons isn’t really good, he seems to get rocked.

This problem with consistency is an issue with many young pitchers, but for the good ones it eventually gets worked out. If Lyons wants to stick in the majors long-term, he is definitely going to need to develop an approach that at least allows him to find a balance between being absolutely dominant and getting obliterated by opposing hitters. With his relatively advanced age and lack of prospect hype, he may not get too many more opportunities to start if he doesn’t start experiencing more success. With that said, he’s shown that he can get it done, so while he is probably going to get replaced by the returning Joe Kelly or Jaime Garcia at some point in the near future, an improvement in his reliability would make him a desirable replacement in the event that the Cardinals suffer more starting pitching injuries throughout the season.