Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jordan Lyles Pitching Profile

Jordan Lyles is an 18-year old right-handed pitcher from South Carolina. A three-sport athlete from Hartsville High Schol, Lyles was selected with the 38th overall pick in the supplemental portion of the first round in the 2008 draft.

At 6-foot-4 and 185 lbs., Lyles has a good frame for a pitcher. His delivery is an 'easy' three-quarters motion and is not a violent affair. didn't do a scouting report on Lyles before the draft last season, but they did post video of his throwing motion, which faintly reminded me of Scott Elarton.

As for his pitches, I'm not sure exactly what he throws, but I'd wager he has a good four-seam fastball and a slow curve. I'm not sure what his fastball velocity is either. I will suppose, however, that he has a ton of movement on his pitches. Very few of his 27 strikeouts are looking, which means he's missing a ton of bats -- a very good sign.

There is a downside to this, however. Lyles isn't a polished pitcher. Right now, he's more of a thrower. He walks more batters than you'd like, he gives up a ton of line drives and he hits about a batter a game. All this suggests he struggles iwth his control. Whether that's due to his pitches having more movement than he expects or just the batters being more discerning in the minors than in high school, I'm not sure.

The other way this lack of control can hurt his is he doesn't get through many innings. Lyles has not completed the sixth inning in any of his five starts this season and has not faced more than 25 batters in any one start. I do not have his pitch counts*, but because of his large strikeout totals, he has to be running up against a limit earlier than you'd like in his starts.

* I'm reading the Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers right now, and Bill James and Rany Jaziersky/Keith Woolner are arguing over whether high pitch counts are actually detrimental. It's changed my mindset on the subject a bit, as I think the problem lies in not taxing a young arm too early. Pitchers can throw 120-130 pitches, but work up to it. That's why these young guys are being started off slowly. The More You Know!

Lyles has also been fairly unlucky with the defense behind him. His strikeouts help limit the effect of defense, but when the ball has been put in play, his fielder's have had a DER over 100 points lower than Ross Seaton. Lyles has a BABiP of .348, so his numbers should trend down a little. The biggest difference between Seaton's 4-1 record and Lyles 1-2? Seaton has stranded 91.6% of his base runners while Lyles is at 67.3%. Some of that is because Lyles gives up more hits, ubt he's also been hit harder as Lyles has a line drive percentage almost 10 percent higher than Seaton. Also, Lyles has gotten zero run support in two of his five starts, which hurts his record even more.

So what does this all mean? Lyles has been okay this season, but hasn't posted a Game Score of 60 or abvoe yet and his PRC is at 4.40, half as much as Seaton. Lyles does have great natural stuff, however, and if he can refine his breaking pitches or clean up his control, he has the ability to be a top of the rotation starter.

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