Lance Lynn has been a disappointment for much of the season for the Chicago White Sox. The 35-year-old right-hander was integral to the team’s playoff run last year when he posted an 11-6 record with a 2.69 era and a 1.07 whip in 28 starts. Yet the start of his 2022 season was delayed by his having surgery on his right knee to repair a torn tendon. When he finally got his season going in June after a stint on the 60-day injured list, he struggled to regain his velocity.
Going into his fourteenth start of the season on Thursday (August 25th) on the road against Baltimore, the right-hander had a 3-5 record this season in thirteen starts with a 5.30 era and a 1.23 whip. We noted at the time that his velocity has been at its best all season this month. Yet his strikeout rate of 24.5% of the batters he had faced was the lowest in the last four seasons, and while he is striking out 9.17 batters per nine innings in his previous three starts (with the bump in velocity), that rate still represented a four-year low for him if extended to the entire season.
Another concern for Lynn even with the return of his velocity has been in giving up too many home runs. Lynn had allowed 14 home runs this season at a rate of 1.77 home runs allowed per nine innings which is a career-high for him. In his previous three starts, he had given up another three home runs for a 1.52 home runs allowed per nine-inning rate which was an improvement yet still would be a career-high for him if extended to the entire season.
These underlying issues played a role in our choosing the Orioles that night for our MLB Underdog of the Month. Fortunately, Baltimore won the game in extra innings, 3-2, after tying the game in the bottom of the ninth inning from a Kyle Stowers home run. At first glance, our take on Lynn may have looked to be off. He gave up only two runs, with just one of them being an earned run, in six innings. He struck out eight batters, representing 36.3% of the batters he faced.
Yet Lynn’s gopher ball problems continued as he gave up a home run in the first inning to Anthony Santander (who later won the game with a homer in the bottom of the 11th inning). He is now allowing 1.75 home runs per nine innings having given up 15 bombs in his 77 1/3 innings. Lynn has given up eleven home runs in his last eight starts and eight homers in his last six starts. Perhaps bettors can talk themselves into dismissing those numbers because of his earlier velocity issues, but he has still given up four home runs in his last four starts in August even with his velocity back to normal.
Lynn is pitching better than he was when returned from the injured list in June. Yet he is giving up too many home runs to then assume he has regained his form from last season. When it comes to backing the White Sox with Lynn on the mound, proceed with caution.
Good luck - TDG.