I got asked a few follow up questions that were quite fantastic and quite thought-provoking, so I thought I would go ahead and make a Lance Lynn post - part trois.
Question #1: The numbers show data from 2007 on, has Lynn's approach against lefties altered at all during that time?
For this question, I am just going to look at his two seasons as a starter, since they seem to be the most apropos in this situation.
In 2012 against left-handers, Lynn threw 49.3% 4-seam fastballs, 20.1% sinkers, 17.8% curveballs, 6.8% change ups, and 5.2% cutters.
In 2013 against left-handers, Lynn threw 52.2% 4-seam fastballs, 21.1% sinkers, 12.4% cutters, 10.7% curveballs, and 3.6% change ups.
So, yes is the short answer. His repertoire changed. How statistically significant were the changes? Here are the percentages written as a difference between 2012 and 2013. (Read "+" as thrown more often and read "-" as thrown less often.
4-seam fastballs: +2.9%
Change ups: -3.2%
Lynn basically dropped his curve ball percentage in exchange for a higher cutter percentage in 2013. He also dropped percentages on his change ups and sinkers minimally to add to his four-seam fastball minimally.
The other question is going to be harder to answer:
Is Lance Lynn more or less prone to the "big inning" in comparison to his peers?
First of all, I had to make a decision on how to define a "big inning." I looked at Lynn's player card on Baseball-Reference and found his game logs. In those game logs, I looked through his 2013 starts to find individual innings in which he allowed 3+ runs OR allowed 5+ base runners.
April 3: No such inning - 4 pitched.
April 9: No such inning - 6 pitched.
April 15: No such inning - 5 pitched.
April 20: No such inning - 7 pitched.
April 26: No such inning - 7 pitched.
May 1: No such inning - 7 pitched.
May 7: No such inning - 7 pitched.
*May 13: 7 innings pitched. In the second inning, Lynn walked the leadoff hitter, then got 1 out on a fly ball, then got one out on a sacrifice bunt. With 2 down and one man on, Lynn walked a second batter, then gave up a 2-run scoring double, followed by a run scoring single. 2 hits, 2 walks, 3 runs in the inning.
*May 18: 5 innings pitched. In the third inning, with one out, Lynn allowed a single, then got a sacrifice bunt for the second out. With 2 outs, Lynn gave up another single, followed by a 2-run scoring triple, then a run scoring single. 4 hits, 0 walks, 3 runs in the inning.
May 24: No such inning - 6 pitched.
May 29: No such inning - 7 pitched.
June 3: No such inning - 7 pitched.
June 9: No such inning - 6 pitched.
*June 15: 5 innings pitched. In the first inning, Lynn gave up a triple to start the inning. He gave up a run scoring single to the next batter. After recording two outs, he walked a batter, then gave up a run-scoring single, then hit a batter, then gave up a 2-run scoring single, before striking a man out to end the threat. 4 hits, 1 walk, 1 hit batter, 4 runs in the inning.
June 20: No such inning - 6 pitched.
*June 26: 7 2/3/ innings pitched. In the 4th inning, Lynn gave up 2 singles to start the inning, then walked two more batters - scoring 1. He then allowed a ground out which scored a run before a single that scored a run. After getting another ground out, he allowed a run-scoring single before recording the third out.
*July 2: 6 innings pitched. In the 2nd inning, Lynn gave up 4 singles to start the inning - 2 runs scored - before getting his first out. After that first out, he allowed 2 more singles that scored 2 more runs. Finally, through no fault of his own he gave up a run on an error then retired the last two batters. The error did not affect Lynn mentally that inning as he got out of it cleanly after the error. 6 hits, 1 error, 5 runs (4 earned) that inning.
July 7: No such inning - 7 pitched.
*July 13: 4 1/3 innings pitched. In the 2nd inning, Lynn gave up a leadoff double followed by a run-scoring single. After a passed ball, Lynn got a ground out for the first out. Lynn gave up a run-scoring single next, followed by 2 more singles that did not produce a run. With the bases loaded, he struck out a man before allowing an infield single that scored a run. He then got a ground out to end the inning. 6 hits, 1 error, 3 runs that inning.
July 20: No such inning - 5 pitched.
July 25: No such inning - 7 pitched.
July 30: No such inning - 6 pitched.
August 4: No such inning - 8 pitched.
*August 9: 6 2/3 innings pitched. In the 7th inning, Lynn walked a batter. He then gave up a sacrifice bunt for out #1. He walked another batter. After striking out a man for the second out, Lynn gave up a run-scoring single. He then hit a batter. At this point, Lynn was pulled from the game and Randy Choate gave up a two-run scoring single that scored 2 more of Lynn's runners. Lynn had 1 hit, 2 walks, 1 hit batter allowed giving up 1 run of his own, but allowing 3 earned runs in the inning. This should get an asterisk, in my mind.
*August 15: 5 1/3 innings pitched. In the 4th inning, Lynn allowed a single, then a run-scoring double, then a 2-run homer, got a K, then allowed a triple. He then got two flyouts, the first of which was a sacrifice fly. 4 hits and 4 runs allowed in the inning.
*August 20: 6 innings pitched. In the 4th inning, Lynn gave up two consecutive singles to start the inning. The third man of the inning reached on Lynn's error. The next three men singled scoring 4 total runs. After a sacrifice bunt, Lynn allowed a sacrifice fly then got the third out. 5 hits, 1 error, 5 runs scored that inning.
August 25: No such inning - 7 pitched.
*August 31: 4 innings pitched. In the 2nd inning, Lynn allowed a leadoff double, then got the first out of the inning. He walked the third man of the inning. He got a ground out to make it first and second, two outs. He then allowed two consecutive run-scoring singles, threw a wild pitch, and walked a man to load the bases with 2 already in and 2 outs before retiring the final batter on an infield pop-up. 3 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs that inning.
September 5: No such inning - 5 pitched.
September 11: No such inning - 6 pitched.
September 16: No such inning - 6 1/3 pitched.
September 21: No such inning - 6 1/3 pitched.
September 27: No such inning - 6 pitched.
Lynn gave up 3 or more runs in an inning OR 5 or more baserunners in an inning 10 times this year. On one of those occasions, the runs threshold was only met after Lynn had exited the game. Not counting that inning, he gave up 9 innings out of 201 2/3 innings that met the criteria for a "big inning" allowed - in 33 starts.
I will compare him to a few others. I will spare you the details on the rest of the pitchers, however.
The first one I would like to compare him to is Jeff Samardzija. I think that Lynn compares quite well to The Shark in Chicago. Samardzija is seen by many fans and baseball people as a top of the line starting pitcher who is likely to see big money come his way soon. I've talked before about the similarities between the two and am not going to rehash them here - sufficed to say that they are quite similar statistically. Ridiculously close.
Samardzija threw 33 games, the same as Lynn. He also threw over 200 innings like Lynn (although slightly more at 213 2/3). Samardzija had 13 "big innings" allowed this year - 2 of which contained an error. He twice had 2 "big innings" come in 1 game - Lynn did not allow this to happen to him even once all year.
Lastly, I would like to compare Lynn to the 7 other starters in St. Louis that threw at least 8 games started. They are (in reverse order of games started) - Tyler Lyons, Jaime Garcia, Michael Wacha, Joe Kelly, Jake Westbrook, Shelby Miller, and Adam Wainwright.
Tyler Lyons started 8 games. He went 43 2/3 innings as a starter. Lyons had 3 "big innings" allowed this year. In one of them he was pulled from the inning AFTER having allowed 4 runs - so it was not the same scenario as the Lynn "pulled game" earlier, but kept Lyons from getting more of those innings against him - as it was just the 2nd inning.
Jaime Garcia started 9 games. He went 55 1/3 innings as a starter. Garcia had 4 "big innings" allowed this year - 1 of which contained an error. He allowed two of those big innings to occur in in a single game once - his last outing of the year.
Michael Wacha started 9 games. He went 54 innings as a starter. Wacha had 3 "big innings" allowed this year.
Joe Kelly started 15 games. He went 87 innings as a starter. Kelly had 0 "big innings" allowed this year as a starter. This really surprises me! Out of Waino, Miller, Lynn, Wacha, and Kelly - Kelly had the lowest K/9, highest BB/9, highest H/9, highest FIP, highest xFIP, and highest SIERA. It's surprising to me that he had no "big innings" on the year due to having the most base runners per 9. Of course, on the contrary, this means he still gave up the most baserunners and thus had more innings with any runs allowed (as a percentage). Bravo on the no "big innings" though!!!
Not including his 1 IP start to end the year (a token of appreciation for his time in STL), Jake Westbrook started 18 games. He went 109 2/3 innings as a starter. Westy had 6 "big innings" allowed this year - 1 of which contained an error.
Not including the start where Shelby Miller got hit by a line drive on the first batter and exited the game, he started 30 games. He went 173 1/3 innings as a starter. Miller had 5 "big innings" allowed this year. Two of those "big innings" came with an error in the inning (but one of them provided the 5th base runner of the inning without giving up 3+ runs). I'll let you decide if that one of the two counts.
Adam Wainwright started 34 games. He went 241 2/3 innings as a starter. Waino had 9 "big innings" allowed this year. Wainwright allowed 2 of them in two separate games this year - something Lynn did not do all year.
Basically. Lance Lynn compares favorably with just about anyone you put him up against in terms of giving up "big innings" besides Joe Kelly. Kelly was the exception to the rule this year - not having a single one despite the previously mentioned hits and walks allowed with a lack of strikeouts. Lance Lynn can be a dominant starter and has a bad reputation - I think because of his size. It's unfounded and stupid of Cardinals' fans to dislike Lynn, in this writer's opinion.