The Other 15: Tyler Lyons

Dilip Vishwanat

Editor's Note: The Other 15 is a multi-part series analyzing 15 players on the Cardinals 40 man roster who are long shots to head north with the team for opening day.

Age: 26

Position: SP/RP

Acquired: Draft, 2010 - 9th Round, #289 Overall

Bats: B

Throws: L

Player Profile & Career Summary:

After four solid years at Oklahoma State, Lyons has been an underrated performer in the Cardinals farm system pretty much since he was drafted. While it's hard to get noticed in a system full of Top 20 pitching prospects, Lyons has done nothing but put up solid peripherals since he started full season ball in 2011:

YEAR

LVL/LEAGUE

G

GS

IP

BABIP

LOB%

K%

BB%

SIERA

FIP

2011 A+ / FSL 33 12 94 .301 65.3 19.7 7.2 3.91 3.61
2012 AA / TEX 12 12 64.1 .330 69.9 19.7 6.9 3.67 3.67
2012 AAA / PCL 15 15 88.1 .315 68.9 24.3 4.9 3.06 3.19
2013 AAA / PCL 17 16 100.1 .280 68.9 21.6 4.8 3.33 3.01

Lyons has been a bit old for his league at each stop, which tempers those numbers a bit in context. That said, if I put those FIP's and K% up on the board and didn't tell you who it was, I'm relatively sure your first guess would not be "Tyler Lyons."

Pitching Profile:

Lyons features a fastball that sits in the 90-93 mph range after a bump in velocity last year at Memphis. His best two pitches are his breaking balls: A solid curve that he uses mostly against right handed hitters and early in the count against lefties and a Choate-like sweeping slider that makes for a good out pitch against left handed hitters while also allowing him to get inside to right handed hitters. Lyons uses his changeup to keep hitters honest -- not a plus pitch, but an average one that has decent arm-side fade but doesn't fool many hitters.


His fastball really jumps out of his hand when I watch him on video. Hitters are late on it occasionally, which is surprising since he doesn't throw very hard. You can see how effective his breaking pitches are when he saws off Grant Green in the PA above.

Add to that Lyons' fantastic command of all his offerings and you've got the makeup of a pretty damn good pitcher. Which is exactly what Tyler Lyons is. He's never going to throw hard enough to be a top of the rotation starter, but I don't see any reason why he can't be a back-end of the rotation pitcher for a good team.

2014 Outlook:

Unfortunately, it's awfully hard to crack the back end of the starting rotation in the Cardinals organization, although Jamie Garcia's recent shoulder setback might have opened the door. I could totally see Lyons filling the 5th starter role, and I think it's entirely possible that he's a better pitcher than Joe Kelly (although, admittedly, not nearly as good a dancer).

If he doesn't win a job in the rotation, he might make the club as a reliever, but it's far more likely Lyons will fill out the Memphis rotation and wait for an opportunity that comes via trade or injury. Which might be the pertinent thing to do as he has clearly demonstrated the talent of a rotation pitcher.

Value:

Back end of the rotation starters aren't what you give up a lot of talent for in trade, but back end starters who can step in right away certainly have value to the organization as well as anyone looking for starting pitching depth.

Prediction:

I think Lyons is likely the unheralded "6th starter", keeping his arm warm and repertoire sharp in Memphis waiting for an opportunity to fill in the rotation with the MLB club. Basically, exactly what he did last year.

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