Lyons Comfortable In New Role

A walk, a double play, and a strikeout on 12 pitches. That was the quick work Tyler Lyons made of the Boston Red Sox last night in the 8th inning as the St. Louis Cardinals left-hander is continuing to see more and more higher leverage situations at the back end of games.

“I don’t think it changes too much preparation,” said Lyons recently of his shift of roles. “At the end of the day, when you get up on the mound, no matter what the situation I try to keep it the same. I try to worry about what I’m doing and not necessarily the situation as much as trying to execute pitches and get people out.”

Dating back to July 7th, Lyons has made 14 appearances–recording 12.2 scoreless innings with 18 strikeouts and only two walks. Opponents are hitting .054 against him in that span.

“The stuff’s always been there,” said Mike Matheny. “We always said that you could see him coming in being a guy very effective out of the pen in any role because the slider and the curveball are that good. His changeup has really improved too. His location with his fastball–and he’s got a nice fastball, but it’s the other two pitches that are really going to make him effective against the lefties.”

The swing and miss stuff from Lyons has been effective against hitters from both sides of the plate as right-handed batters have actually struck out more (30 vs 16) than those from the left side.

“It’s a strange breaking ball,” continued Matheny. “It’s the most wiffle ball-like breaking ball, especially that slider. It takes a hard turn right at the last second. It’s a little different than what you’re seeing in the rest of the league, which I think gives him an advantage.”

Beginning the season on the disabled list as he continued to rehab from knee surgery, Lyons appeared in just two games before he returned to the DL with a right intercostal strain. Activated on May 23rd, the left-hander is finally regaining the form and feel from before the end of last year.

“I think it’s definitely fair to say I feel a lot better than I did earlier in the year–even when I was active and pitching,” said Lyons. “Physically, from the knee standpoint and just getting back there in the and getting in the swing of things. Body wise, pitching wise, everything. I definitely feel a lot better now than I did earlier in the year.”

Which is good news for St. Louis, as with Trevor Rosenthal now being evaluated by the medical staff, the Cardinals could look to Lyons to not just set up, but actually close out more games.

photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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