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Lance Lynn should be an All-StarPosted Thursday, June 14, 2012, at 9:51 AM
By COREY NOLES
Lance Lynn, who made his rookie debut as a late-inning hero for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, has earned the right to be an All-Star in 2012.
Lynn was forced into his current role when ace RHP Chris Carpenter went down with nerve irritation during spring training. To say that he has done well is a gross understatement.
In 13 starts, Lynn has gone 10-2. He has an ERA of 2.42 and seems to be holding steady around that point. Those numbers alone are a valid case for a July trip to Kansas City on their own.
Not convinced? Here are some more reasons.
He's a strikeout machine
There are guys with more strikeouts. Wednesday evening he made his way into a tie for fourth place in the National League with his 86th K of 2012.
While he's not a strikeout-only guy, the fact that his last two starts account for a total of 23 strikeouts is worth something, and hitters are starting to take notice. In fact, in both starts, he set new career high single-game strikeout totals.
With a four-seam fastball, his main pitch, that clocks in the mid- to upper 90s and a changeup in the upper 70s to lower 80s, Lynn has shown a fantastic ability to keep hitters on their toes. The changeup looks like an underhanded lob when it follows his fastball.
Lynn has all of the right tools to become a successful top of the rotation starter. He's confident, mentally stable on the mound and has a good toolbox and impeccable control.
As soon as he steps onto the field, Lynn is in the zone. To be only 23 years old, his ability to keep his cool is that of any veteran pitcher. He can give up a run or two and then turn around to strike out the side. He's not easily shaken.
There are few qualities better than that in a major league starting pitcher.
He's been the Cardinals anchor
Despite the Cardinals May and June struggles, Lynn has been their one sure thing. Kyle Lohse has been good for them and Adam Wainwright is coming around quickly, but every fifth day Lynn has been the closest thing they have to a sure win.
Wednesday night he threw 112 pitches, 77 for strikes. He's going deeper into games than other pitchers and giving their ailing bullpen much needed days to reboot.
He's a good compliment to the likely candidates
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweeted a comment by Hall of Fame writer Rick Hummel on Wednesday evening that laid out an intriguing scenario. He pointed out that Tony La Russa could possibly start high-speed hurler Stephen Strasburg, followed by R.A. Dickey with his knuckleball, Lynn with his heat and then lefty Cole Hamels.
In that scenario, such dramatic speed and style changes could be a huge asset to a National League team that lost two of its biggest hitters in 2012.
La Russa Knows What He Is Capable of
La Russa knows Lynn and what he is capable of as well as anyone. If Lynn doesn't get selected, which is likely, it wouldn't be a stretch for La Russa to pick him up.
He relied on Lynn heavily throughout the Cardinals' 2011 playoff run and all through the postseason. If he trusted him there, he would definitely have faith in him for the All-Star Game.
Did I mention he has 10 wins enough times yet? Lynn pulled out win number 10 on Wednesday night. While 10 wins at the All-Star break is impressive, it should be noted that he likely has four more starts prior to the break.
Wins aren't everything, but they are a good indicator of consistency. Consistent is the best way to describe Lynn's major league career to date.
If chosen or selected, the rest of the nation can get a glimpse of St. Louis' best kept secret.
To submit a question for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag, either e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call (573)624-4545, or fill out the form at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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