So far it’s looking like last winter’s slow free agency might have been an anomaly partially caused by a weak market. The stove hasn’t been quite hot so far, but it’s been warm and there are signs of it getting hotter. It shouldn’t take until February for the big names to sign. We may even get some news by Thanksgiving! Fingers crossed.
One of the “victims” of the cold market last year was Lance Lynn. It took until halfway through spring training until he finally found a home. Lynn signed a one-year, $12 million deal with the Twins on March 12.
He struggled in the early goings of the season, but a lot of that looks like it could’ve been chalked up to not having a spring training. By the time the trade deadline rolled around, Lynn had started to round into form.
Desperate for any pitching help whatsoever, the Yankees traded Tyler Austin, Luis Rijo, and cash to the Twins for Lynn. Originally slated to join the team’s bullpen, it wasn’t long (no really, literally just one game) before Lynn found himself replacing Sonny Gray and giving the Yankees some much-needed rotation help.
2018 Season Statistics: Overall: 31 G, 156.2 IP, 4.77 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 9.2 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9, 1.526 WHIP
NYY: 11 G, 54.1 IP, 4.14 ERA, 2.17 FIP, 10.1 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9, 1.325 WHIP
2019 Contract Status: Free agent
Lynn made his Yankee debut on August 1st, tossing 4.1 scoreless innings in relief of Sonny Gray. This game was the final straw for Gray as he was lit up for seven runs in 2.2 innings by the lowly Orioles. The Yankees lost the game 7-5, but Lynn’s brilliant performance was why the Yankees even had a shot of coming back in the end.
To think Lynn’s debut was great, his first actual start was that much more impressive. He hurled 7.1 scoreless innings against the White Sox, and Yankees fans rejoiced at the thought of having starters who can pitch deep into games and pitch well. Lynn, along with other trade deadline acquisition J.A. Happ, was a revelation for the team.
After his first few starts, Lynn started to unravel a bit. He allowed 19 runs in 18.2 innings across four starts. As bad as it was, it was still better than the alternative in Gray as Lynn was able to at least make it into the fourth in all of those starts, twice making it to the sixth. At least he provided some semblance of length.
Lynn bounced back after that rough stretch, allowing just four runs in 16 innings over his next three starts. For his final appearance, Lynn came out of the bullpen and pitched three innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox. That prepped him for his eventual role in the playoffs, as he fell behind Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, and CC Sabathia on the depth chart. At least he made the playoff roster while the guy he replaced didn’t.
Lynn’s tenure with the Yankees won’t stand out as anything special, but he should be well-regarded by Yankees fans. Expectations for him upon his arrival were quite low, but overall he was more than able to hold his own. While a reunion with Lynn isn’t necessarily in the works, he was still able to positively contribute to a 100-win team. Fans were expecting this trade to be a Lance Loss, but it turned out to be a Lance Win.