Chicago Cubs: Making the case for free agent Lance Lynn in 2018

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Lance Lynn /
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 Postseason experience

Going into the 2018 season, the entire Cubs’ rotation will have postseason experience (except for Tyler Chatwood). For that reason, it would make sense for the Cubs’ front office to sign a fourth pitcher that can get it done in October. Lance Lynn could be that guy.

Lynn has an extensive postseason track record dating back to 2011. From 2011 to 2015, Lynn has amassed 52 innings of postseason experience. In that time, the right-hander has appeared in 24 games (seven starts), and logged a 4.50 ERA. Those numbers include Lynn’s 2.81 ERA in 25 2/3 NLCS innings over the years.

Trending in the right direction

The question facing every pitcher following Tommy John surgery is whether they can continue to use their tools effectively. One season removed from surgery and it looks as if Lynn has improved in some areas.

Let’s start with pitch usage. Lynn is a five-pitch pitcher, using a fastball, sinker, change-up, curve-ball and cutter. Prior to surgery, Lynn was using his fastball more than 50% of the time, while mixing in his sinker around 20-25% of the time. Post-surgery, those numbers have equalized as Lynn used his fastball 38% of the time and his sinker 42% of the time in 2017.

Lynn’s remaining three pitches have not seen a big change in usage following surgery. In 2017, Lynn mixed in his cutter just 11% of the time while his curve-ball and change-up made up just seven percent of the pitches thrown.

Now that we know what we’re working with, we can dive into the numbers. In 2017, Lynn saw an increase in the whiff percentage on his sinker and change-up, while the whiff percentage on his fastball remained fairly consistent to previous years. Along with that, batters had a hard time hitting Lynn’s pitches than in prior years. In 2017, Lynn recorded lower batting average against numbers on all his pitches compared to the 2015 season.

To go along with that, Lynn’s two best pitches actually got better as the game went on in 2017. The first time through the order, batters hit .228 and .302 against Lynn’s fastball and sinker respectively. Twice through the order, batters hit .237 against the fastball and .294 against the sinker. Finally, three or more times through the line-up, batters averaged just .187 and .270 off those two pitches.