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OC Register: Angels Offseason Options: Lance Lynn


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(This is the latest in a series of quick profiles on players who fit for the Angels to add over the winter. They are purely “informed speculation,” based on what we know about the Angels’ roster needs along with General Manager Billy Eppler’s preferences and history. We’ll have a new one every weekday, until the GM Meetings, which are the unofficial start of the hot stove season.)

LANCE LYNN, RHP, New York Yankees

The basics: Although Lynn missed the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, he’s still been one of the more durable pitchers in baseball. In the six full seasons he’s pitched, he’s averaged 31 starts, with a 3.57 ERA. He will be 32 next season.

2018 season: Lynn was one of the players caught up in the industry’s collective unwillingness to commit to free agents over 30 last year, and he ended up signing with the Minnesota Twins halfway through spring training. He had a 4.77 ERA with the Twins and Yankees, who acquired him in July.

Contract status: Lynn is a free agent, after making $12 million in 2018.

Why he makes sense: The Angels need durability, and Lynn offers that. He’s pitched 175 innings five times. His troubles last season might have stemmed from missing half of spring training, which he’s not likely to do again. Also, his peripherals weren’t as bad as some of his other numbers would indicate. Lynn struck out a career-best 9.2 per nine innings last season. Statcast numbers also suggest that that the quality of contact he allowed should have led to better results. His ERA went from 5.22 in the first half to 4.13 in the second half, much of which he pitched in Yankee Stadium and the hitter-friendly American League East. His fielding independent pitching (FIP) was 3.84. Those numbers all suggest he could be a good bounce-back candidate, especially if the Angels can buy low on him and get him for a one-year deal for something around $9 million or $10 million.

Why he doesn’t: Lynn is still going to be 32 and coming off his worst season, so there’s a chance he’s not going to bounce back and he’s instead going to be the pitcher he was. The Angels might choose to go for one big-ticket pitcher, instead of settling for multiple lesser ones.

Previous players: C J.T. RealmutoRHP Nate EovaldiRHP Sonny Gray, LHP Patrick Corbin, LHP CC Sabathia, UT Daniel Descalso, RHP Julio Teheran, LHP Gio Gonzalez, UT Marwin Gonzalez, LHP J.A. Happ, LHP Will Smith, 3B Mike Moustakas, OF Jon Jay.

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I'm going to just keep dropping this into any thread regarding a SP that will draw a knee-jerk "but he sucks and isn't an improvement" reaction.
Also applies to the "but we already have a rotation full of mid-rotation types, why do we need another" reaction.

2018 5th SP (Tropeano, Despaigne, McGuire, Lamb, J.C. Ramirez, Noe Ramirez, Johnson, Cole, Bridwell):
32 GS, 122 IP, 9.2 K/9, 2.30 WHIP6.88 ERA

Lance Lynn, James Shields, C.C. Sabathia, Julio Teheran...at first glance, an argument can definitely be made that they 'suck' or are a poor choice because they aren't young. I will concede that one of these is pitchers is not the solution - they'd need at least one more pitcher with at least some upside.

Fact of the matter is, 25 GS /160+ innings of 4.50-5.00 ERA would still be a measurable improvement over what we've gotten at the back of the rotation at least 2 of the last 3 years. Added benefit would be the significant reduction of roster moves and changing pen roles that come with a rotating door of #5 SPs.

The Angels had similar production in the rotation back in 2016. Eppler went out and brought in Nolasco and Chavez who 'sucked' - but despite their performance, the Angels used significantly fewer starters, fell just shy of the playoffs and .500, had a decent pitching staff, and had arguably their best Eppler season, even with those two basically fronting the rotation.
 

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15 minutes ago, Dtwncbad said:

I liked Lynn as depth when I thought the Angels would have Richards and Ohtani at the top.

With neither of those two in the rotation in 2019, I do not want to backfill with middle of the rotation (or back of the rotation) depth.

Half-agree. 
Lynn brought in to serve as the #4 or #5 is a good move. Lynn brought in to serve as the #3, hoping for a good season where he pitches like a #2? Bad idea. 

My preference is still that the Angels swing a trade for a buy-low SP who maybe has had a #3-4 career (Urena, Jon or Sonny Gray, Bundy, Wheeler) but can still put together #2 upside, and let that pitcher, Skaggs, Shoemaker, and Heaney battle to be the top three, and also sign a Lynn-type #4/#5, letting that pitcher hold down the back-end as Barria, Canning, Suarez, and Sandoval develop.

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1 hour ago, totdprods said:

I'm going to just keep dropping this into any thread regarding a SP that will draw a knee-jerk "but he sucks and isn't an improvement" reaction.
Also applies to the "but we already have a rotation full of mid-rotation types, why do we need another" reaction.

2018 5th SP (Tropeano, Despaigne, McGuire, Lamb, J.C. Ramirez, Noe Ramirez, Johnson, Cole, Bridwell):
32 GS, 122 IP, 9.2 K/9, 2.30 WHIP6.88 ERA

Lance Lynn, James Shields, C.C. Sabathia, Julio Teheran...at first glance, an argument can definitely be made that they 'suck' or are a poor choice because they aren't young. I will concede that one of these is pitchers is not the solution - they'd need at least one more pitcher with at least some upside.

Fact of the matter is, 25 GS /160+ innings of 4.50-5.00 ERA would still be a measurable improvement over what we've gotten at the back of the rotation at least 2 of the last 3 years. Added benefit would be the significant reduction of roster moves and changing pen roles that come with a rotating door of #5 SPs.

The Angels had similar production in the rotation back in 2016. Eppler went out and brought in Nolasco and Chavez who 'sucked' - but despite their performance, the Angels used significantly fewer starters, fell just shy of the playoffs and .500, had a decent pitching staff, and had arguably their best Eppler season, even with those two basically fronting the rotation.
 

2016 and 2017 were almost identicle for the Angel's.  The only exception was the wild card teams were a lot better.

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28 minutes ago, stormngt said:

2016 and 2017 were almost identicle for the Angel's.  The only exception was the wild card teams were a lot better.

By what measure? Because in terms of record and overall production, it was the ‘17 and ‘18 Angels that were about as identical as two teams could be.

  • 2016: 74-88, -10 run differential
  • 2017: 80-82, +1 run differential 
  • 2018: 80-82, -1 run differential

My argument is basically that rotation stability, even if it’s just average talent, can keep a team in contention. The 2017 Angels staff was the ‘best’ of the three, finishing 6th in the AL in ERA. The ‘16 team was 12th, this year they were 8th. 

The ‘17 team still used 13 SP, which is a lot, but less than the 2016 team (15) and the 2018 team (16), and of those 13, four managed to make 20 or more starts (the other years only had three), and the 2017 team also had the fewest number of starters who made less than 10 starts. This is despite the fact that Ricky Nolasco and Jesse Chavez made up 1/3 (!!!) of those starts. 

Even though those two weren’t great, the rotation was stable, the pen was used more efficiently, and the 2017 team pitched the best of the three. 

I’m a big believer that simply getting 4 guys to collectively make 100 GS between them, no matter the quality, is generally enough to get you into being a +.500 team. It saves so much strain on the pen and keeps roster moves to a minimum. 

Add two guys with a history of making starts and eating innings, no matter the quality, and add them to Heaney (who I feel is our best bet for 25+ GS/180+ IP) and Shoemaker, Skaggs, and Barria (at least one should hit the 25/180 threshold), and you should have a rotation good enough for WC contention.

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5 hours ago, totdprods said:

By what measure? Because in terms of record and overall production, it was the ‘17 and ‘18 Angels that were about as identical as two teams could be.

  • 2016: 74-88, -10 run differential
  • 2017: 80-82, +1 run differential 
  • 2018: 80-82, -1 run differential

My argument is basically that rotation stability, even if it’s just average talent, can keep a team in contention. The 2017 Angels staff was the ‘best’ of the three, finishing 6th in the AL in ERA. The ‘16 team was 12th, this year they were 8th. 

The ‘17 team still used 13 SP, which is a lot, but less than the 2016 team (15) and the 2018 team (16), and of those 13, four managed to make 20 or more starts (the other years only had three), and the 2017 team also had the fewest number of starters who made less than 10 starts. This is despite the fact that Ricky Nolasco and Jesse Chavez made up 1/3 (!!!) of those starts. 

Even though those two weren’t great, the rotation was stable, the pen was used more efficiently, and the 2017 team pitched the best of the three. 

I’m a big believer that simply getting 4 guys to collectively make 100 GS between them, no matter the quality, is generally enough to get you into being a +.500 team. It saves so much strain on the pen and keeps roster moves to a minimum. 

Add two guys with a history of making starts and eating innings, no matter the quality, and add them to Heaney (who I feel is our best bet for 25+ GS/180+ IP) and Shoemaker, Skaggs, and Barria (at least one should hit the 25/180 threshold), and you should have a rotation good enough for WC contention.

I think the difference is that there were more "great teams" in 2018

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7 hours ago, totdprods said:

I'm going to just keep dropping this into any thread regarding a SP that will draw a knee-jerk "but he sucks and isn't an improvement" reaction.
Also applies to the "but we already have a rotation full of mid-rotation types, why do we need another" reaction.

2018 5th SP (Tropeano, Despaigne, McGuire, Lamb, J.C. Ramirez, Noe Ramirez, Johnson, Cole, Bridwell):
32 GS, 122 IP, 9.2 K/9, 2.30 WHIP6.88 ERA

Lance Lynn, James Shields, C.C. Sabathia, Julio Teheran...at first glance, an argument can definitely be made that they 'suck' or are a poor choice because they aren't young. I will concede that one of these is pitchers is not the solution - they'd need at least one more pitcher with at least some upside.

Fact of the matter is, 25 GS /160+ innings of 4.50-5.00 ERA would still be a measurable improvement over what we've gotten at the back of the rotation at least 2 of the last 3 years. Added benefit would be the significant reduction of roster moves and changing pen roles that come with a rotating door of #5 SPs.

The Angels had similar production in the rotation back in 2016. Eppler went out and brought in Nolasco and Chavez who 'sucked' - but despite their performance, the Angels used significantly fewer starters, fell just shy of the playoffs and .500, had a decent pitching staff, and had arguably their best Eppler season, even with those two basically fronting the rotation.
 

I can't emphasize the importance of this information.  Ricky Nolasco was our second best starter.  That's how decimated our rotation was.  1.1 WAR from him in 73.0 ip.  

32 starts.  122 ip.  That's 3.8 innings per start.  -1.8 WAR for those 9 guys.    

Now I am sure if you took the worst of every team over the years and collectively made a starter out of them, there would be worse, but the worst individual starter season for a guy with more than 100ip is Phil Ortega in 1965 who threw 179.2 ip and had a -1.9 WAR.  

This might bring it home - it's the lowest collective of more than 100ip worth of starts in all baseball this last year.  And frankly, it was by a fair amount.  The next closest was almost a win away.  That includes the white sox, orioles, padres, rangers and reds.  I went back a couple of years to see if some of the worst staff in baseball could come close to that level of pain.  One of them was the 2016 Angels.  They came close but ended up at around -1.6 WAR.  

I had no idea it was this bad.   

For the love of everything decent and holy Billy.  Make this go away.  

Last year, the worst starter in baseball who pitched more than 120 innings had a -0.2 WAR.  (Lucas Giolito).  Next was Dan Straily at 0.1 WAR.  Just about anything with a pulse from last year would have outperformed the Halos in those 32 starts by nearly two wins.  

We talk about lineup depth and how we are top heavy.  How we can't ignore the bottom of the lineup.  Ok, fine, I agree.  

What about the bottom of the rotation?  Bartolo pitched 122.1ip last year with a 5.78 era.  He had 0.1 WAR.  He was almost 2 wins better than what we got.  I might actually barf.  

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10 hours ago, totdprods said:

I'm going to just keep dropping this into any thread regarding a SP that will draw a knee-jerk "but he sucks and isn't an improvement" reaction.
Also applies to the "but we already have a rotation full of mid-rotation types, why do we need another" reaction.

2018 5th SP (Tropeano, Despaigne, McGuire, Lamb, J.C. Ramirez, Noe Ramirez, Johnson, Cole, Bridwell):
32 GS, 122 IP, 9.2 K/9, 2.30 WHIP6.88 ERA

Lance Lynn, James Shields, C.C. Sabathia, Julio Teheran...at first glance, an argument can definitely be made that they 'suck' or are a poor choice because they aren't young. I will concede that one of these is pitchers is not the solution - they'd need at least one more pitcher with at least some upside.

Fact of the matter is, 25 GS /160+ innings of 4.50-5.00 ERA would still be a measurable improvement over what we've gotten at the back of the rotation at least 2 of the last 3 years. Added benefit would be the significant reduction of roster moves and changing pen roles that come with a rotating door of #5 SPs.

The Angels had similar production in the rotation back in 2016. Eppler went out and brought in Nolasco and Chavez who 'sucked' - but despite their performance, the Angels used significantly fewer starters, fell just shy of the playoffs and .500, had a decent pitching staff, and had arguably their best Eppler season, even with those two basically fronting the rotation.
 

Spot on.

If we make a move like this, it will be as boring as wife sex. That being said, its still a step up from our hands.

A move like this wont solve anything. But it will absolutely compliment whatever "big move" we make (hopefully a front end starter).

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20 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

The Angels had 16 games started by John Lamb, Deck McGuire, Odrisamer Despaigne, Noé Ramírez, Taylor Cole, Jim Johnson.

The big standout in there (to me) is despaigne. Thats how bad it got. 

I would love to add to the offense as much as anyone else. But the fact is we could add harper, or machado, and still be a low 80s win team. Simply because of how thin the pitching is. 

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And to boot, we only have had one SP currently on the staff pitch one full season in the last three years. Heaney, last season. 

So, to me, that sorta kills any argument that we have a rotation full of mid-rotation types. That may be what they’re capable of if they’re on the mound, but three years running now, it has never materialized. 

And I think it would also be unwise to pencil in Barria for 25+/180+. As young as he is, he hasn’t really built up to that inning workload yet, but he also outpitched his peripherals (which I think will continue to be the case for him) and could be due for some sophomore slump. Can’t discount injury risk there either being how quickly he advanced and the fact that he hasn’t had TJ yet, which almost seems like a given these days. 

My ideal rotation would be two acquired arms, Heaney, Skaggs, and whoever wins out of Barria, Pena, Shoemaker. The other two head to AAA and serve as depth with Suarez and Canning.

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4 minutes ago, wopphil said:

I think we need a Lynn/Sabathia, and a Corbin. We need two arms, at least one of which can give us top of the rotation production (and another who can give us 160 league average innings).

Definitely what I would like to see. Someone with a blend of upside and durability, someone with cheap, league-average ironclad durability. 

Many of our current SPs have enough options we can still stash some in AAA, can use them in the pen, and if things are breaking right, a surplus of SP is an easy asset to deal from. 

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16 minutes ago, arch stanton said:

If they pull 2 legit starters Pena could probably do that or even do a Jerome Williamsish 6th starter/longman combo

Which would be ideal. Ramirez and Bridwell both fell victim to injury after being pressed into rotation duty. Take it cautious with Pena.

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10 hours ago, Stradling said:

@floplag read this thread, you will probably then understand why a lot of people think we need starting pitching.  An average starter probably gives us 4 more real wins over the likes of what we threw out there for 30 plus starts.  

You assume, as usual, that i dont get it.  I do.    I simply see it differently based on available resources to address the overall issues the team has given our roster composition.

9 hours ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

The Angels had 16 games started by John Lamb, Deck McGuire, Odrisamer Despaigne, Noé Ramírez, Taylor Cole, Jim Johnson.

THIS was the problem.    We had 16 different guys make starts for us last year, not counting a couple so-called bullpen games and we're talking what, 12-14 actual SP?  Not having to go that deep on the depth chart would make more difference than 4 wins.   

In my mind, lessening the reliance on SP makes more sense given our roster composition and available resources to address our overall problems.   I've said this many times, i don't now how to make that any clearer.   

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I think Eovaldi and Corbin are going to go for more than the Angels want to pay.  I'd like to see us get one of them but realistically, I don't think we get either.  It's gonna be another season of bounce-back candidates.  I'm already frustrated thinking that Cozart will be the starting 3B next year and Calhoun will be the starting RF.  There's not much reason to believe Cozart will improve on his pre-injury numbers from last season.  Calhoun's September was awful, making it look like his resurgence was short-lived.

So yeah, since we won't get Eovaldi or Corbin, we need to focus on at least minor improvements to the rotation.  Hopefully we don't get Blantoned again.

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