Who is Chase Lyon?
Who is Chase Lyon?
Fernando Rodney #56
In a bottom-line business like major league baseball, fans tend to overlook stats such as 49 strikeouts in 40 innings or 13 saves from a late-inning reliever like Fernando Rodney. Six blown saves and an ERA a whisker under five are more glaring and more representative of Detroitâ€™s bullpen woes in 2008. Yet despite that lackluster campaign, the Tigers expect big things from Rodney in â€™09.
Though he spent April and May on the DL, the â€™08 season wasnâ€™t all bad for the senior-ranking Tiger in the bullpen; he assembled stretches of lights-out appearances, including June and July in which hitters produced a .183 average against him. Over that same timeframe he fanned 37 in 27.1 innings pitched. The key to success for Rodney is a breathtaking changeup that, when near the plate, is difficult for hitters to resist. Of course, a high-90s fastball makes the off-speed pitches that much more tantalizing.
With Todd Jonesâ€™ retirement, Brandon Lyon‘s arrival and Joel Zumayaâ€™s (tentative) return, chances are that Rodney will begin 2009 as a setup man. If something goes wrong with Lyon or Zumaya and if Rodney can harness his pitches, develop consistency, and fortify his mental makeup, he could, in the end, be the Tigersâ€™ answer at closer.
For a pitcher with Rodney’s track record, that’s an awful lot of ifs.
Apologies for the lengthy radio silence. For the past 10 days I’ve been clicking the refresh button on my Web browser at Tigers.com waiting to see if they’ve assigned numbers to Gerald Laird, Adam Everett, Edwin Jackson and Matt Treanor.
Lo and behold, today they have. Here are the numbers you’ll see in your program:
One number that hasn’t changed is Jeff Larish‘s number 19. In the Arizona Fall League he was wearing number 7. With Pudge Rodriguez gone, I thought Larish was making the shift. Apparently not.
Now I can get back to blogging normalcy.
Updated: I forgot to mention Brandon Lyon‘s number, 37. Looks like Kenny Rogers is retired.
Only on rare occasions do I find Tigers-related nuggets in my local paper, The Arizona Republic, and today qualifies as a rare occasion. Here’s one such item from the (excellent) blog of Diamondbacks beat writer Nick Piecoro:
Something we forgot to mention: The Diamondbacks were serious players for Brandon Lyon before Lyon signed with the Tigers, a deal that was finalized on Monday.
Only the Diamondbacks wanted Lyon for their rotation.
General Manager Josh Byrnes said earlier this week that Lyon received â€œbetter financesâ€ from the Tigers. Lyon goes to Detroit as the favorite to win the closerâ€™s job.
Lyonâ€™s agent, Barry Meister, said Lyon was interested in the idea of starting, but timing stood in the way of making a deal happen.
â€œWe had gotten pretty much to the end in Detroit,â€ Meister said, â€œand we were unable to change gears and do something with Arizona. Sometimes itâ€™s just a timing issue and that was the case here.â€
Given what Lynn Henning wrote this morning about the Tigers having seven starting pitchers, perhaps he’ll want to bump that number to eight?
Second tidbit: According to Piecoro, the D-backs may have big plans for former Tigers farmhand, Arizona Rule-5 pickup James Skelton:
General Manager Josh Byrnes said Rule 5 pick James Skelton already has reported to Tucson and is working with coaches Jack Howell, Chip Hale, Lorenzo Bundy and others. He’s hitting, taking ground balls, working in the weight room, etc.
It will be very interesting to see how Skelton looks at positions other than catcher, where he has played almost exclusively in the minor leagues with Detroit. He played a lot of middle infield in high school, and Byrnes wouldnâ€™t rule out the idea of Skelton seeing time in the outfield as well.
â€œAthletically, he can do it,â€ Byrnes said.
So — and yes, we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here — could he be in the mix at second base in 2010?
â€œThatâ€™s not the plan,â€ Byrnes said. â€œBut he has a background there, heâ€™s athletic enough to do it, has a nice bat and with his body type, maybe thatâ€™s the spot for him.â€
Maybe Skelton will be a reverse-Chris Shelton situation for the Tigers. Given how Big Red’s career evaporated, let’s hope that’s not the case for Skelton.
Finally, if you’re watching the Super Bowl today root for the Cardinals. It would be nice to have a team from my town win the final football game of the year. And I don’t mean the Pro Bowl.
Whenever I watched Brandon Lyon pitch for the Diamondbacks the past couple of seasons, my immediate reaction was always he’s a younger Todd Jones.
Fact is, he throws harder than Jones — which can’t hurt — but no one is going to confuse him with Joe Nathan.
Last season wasn’t a pleasant one for the D-backs’ closer, a position he lost to Chad Qualls. Well, that’s not entirely true.
Despite four blown saves in 23 chances in the first half, hitters managed a .243 average against him and his ERA was 2.43. (Compare that to Jones’s 4.95 ERA and .297 opponents’ average in the first half.)
In terms of repertoire, it doesn’t extend far past a fastball and curve. In fact, that’s it. But the curveball is something to behold; no roundhouse breaking pitch, Lyon’s is top-to-bottom — or noon-to-six, as they say. Still, in 2008 he threw the fastball 72 percent of the time — 73 percent with two strikes.
As you might expect, Lyons doesn’t heave bullets across the heart of the plate. Instead, he has a Jones-like corners-nibbling approach. His favorite spots — against righties or lefties — are the outside corners. But against lefties his greatest success comes on the inside corner, up and in, and down and in. So, did the Tigers get themselves another Todd Jones?
But Lyon is 10 years younger than the Tigers’ erstwhile closer and, in the spirit of optimism, he seems to have the durability and closer-ish stuff the bullpen so desperately needs.
(Oh, and Lyon wore number 38 in Arizona and will need a new one in Detroit…unless Jeremy Bonderman wants to give up his number. I’m guessing he ends up with 36.)
Clearing out a mental notebook — and a paper-based one, too — on a dreary Friday afternoon:
Alas, another year has passed and Jack the Cat will not be inducted in Cooperstown. Yes, his vote total reached 44 percent this year, but it seems that Morris may end up a Veterans’ Committee selection down the road. You know how I feel about that.
Charlie Spikeswho played in 10 games for the 1978 Tigers (.250, 0 HR, 2 RBI). He was acquired on Dec. 9, 1977, from the Indians for shortstop Tom Veryzer.
Have a great weekend.
With the Diamondbacks offering salary arbitration to three players — two of them (possibly) of interest to the Tigers: relievers Brandon Lyon and Juan Cruz — it would seem that Detroit will look elsewhere for bullpen help.
Cruz is a Type A free agent and would cost the Tigers (or any team that signs him) two draft picks. Lyon is a Type B free agent, would cost just one. Still, do the Tigers want to part with draft picks, especially two, for this caliber of reliever?