The American League-leading Astros have shown interest in a bevy of starting pitchers leading up to Monday’s trade deadline, and the latest is Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB Network. While the teams were recently embroiled in a hacking scandal that resulted in Major League Baseball forcing the Cardinals to send two draft picks and pay a $2MM fine to the Astros, the clubs are “comfortable” dealing with each other, per Morosi.
As Morosi points out (on Twitter), Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is quite familiar with Lynn, having been in St. Louis’ front office when the team used a first-round pick on the hurler in the 2008 draft. Lynn has enjoyed a nice career with the Cardinals since debuting in 2011, but with his contract up at year’s end and the Redbirds sitting at 51-52 (3.5 games out of the National League Central lead and seven back of a wild-card spot), he could move in the next couple days.
With the exception of 2016, which he missed on account of Tommy John surgery, the 30-year-old Lynn has typically been good for 30-plus starts and at least 175 innings of strong work per season. That has been the case again this year in his return from the procedure, as Lynn has logged a 3.21 ERA, 7.98 K/9, 3.06 BB/9 and a 44 percent ground-ball rate across 120 2/3 frames (21 starts). Lynn has also registered an 11 percent infield fly rate, which ties him for 20th among starters, and posted a 9.1 percent swinging-strike mark that’s right in line with his career mark (9.2). Additionally, per Statcast (via Baseball Savant), Lynn’s terrific .305 expected weighted on-base average against is in line with his actual wOBA allowed (.298).
On the negative side, Lynn’s velocity hasn’t gotten back to its previous levels, and there’s some luckiness behind his stellar run prevention. FIP (4.83), xFIP (4.45) and SIERA (4.39) indicate there could be regression coming, and both Lynn’s .225 batting average on balls in play and 82.3 percent strand rate look likely to trend in the wrong direction as the season progresses.
Regardless of any red flags, Lynn’s track record and results this year have put him on several teams’ radars as Monday approaches. If the Astros win the derby for the $7.5MM man, he’d presumably join Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton to comprise their top four starters, though Brad Peacock and Mike Fiers have pitched so well out of their rotation over the past couple months that it would be unwise to discount them.