Photo via Tom Pennington/Getty Images
The good fortunes just keep on rolling in for the Chicago White Sox.
The fortunes, contrary to the initial knee-jerk belief, do not pertain the offense, even though the likes of Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson and company are most certainly formidable.
Instead, the fortunes involve the starting staff.
Now, the starting staff was solid last season. The White Sox had a collective starter ERA of 3.85 last season, which ranked eighth in all of baseball. Even still, the White Sox needed another dependable workhorse. Another starter the White Sox could link together with their veteran in Dallas Keuchel. Maybe, even, a more defined starter to slot right behind their rising star in Giolito.
Luckily for the White Sox, they brought in the right player who fits the description, as the team traded 25-year-old Dane Dunning and 23-year-old pitching prospect Avery Weems to the Texas Rangers for 33-year-old Lance Lynn.
Although Lynn only has one remaining year on his three-year, $30 million deal he initially signed during the 2018 offseason, the White Sox do not mind. A win-now team does not labor about next offseason. Instead, they are looking forward to what Lynn can bring to the table this season. So, what could Lynn possibly add to a staff that is already on the rise?
To start, let’s look at what Lynn did last season. No, scratch that. Let’s look at what Lynn has done over his past two seasons.
When looking at both the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Lance Lynn twirled 292.1 innings (46 games started) to the tune of a 3.57 ERA with 335 strikeouts, 34 home runs allowed and 84 walks conceded. When looking outside of the basic box score, Lynn’s strikeouts per nine innings pitched (K/9) was 10.31, while his walks per nine innings pitched (BB/9) and home runs per nine innings pitched (HR/9) were 2.59 and 1.05, respectively. Lynn’s Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), which attempts to look at the “actual” ERA of a pitcher based off of factors he can control (such as strikeouts), was 3.43, which suggests the righty pitched slightly better than his actual numbers showed. Lastly, ERA- and FIP-, both park-adjusted factors for ERA and FIP (where 100 is average and every percentage point lower is one point better than average,) showed above-average production, as Lynn’s ERA- and FIP- were 72 and 73, respectively.
When looking at the entire package, you have a dependable, durable and legitimate starting pitcher who pitched extremely well even when taking ballpark factors into account. OK, fair enough.
Where do these numbers stack up in comparison to other starting pitchers, though?
Glad you asked.
Among 42 qualified pitchers over the course of the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Lynn’s ERA ranked 18th, while his K/9, BB/9 and HR/9 numbers were 16th, tied for 22nd and tied for 12th, respectively. Lynn’s FIP, meanwhile, ranked 13th. While his ERA- and FIP- both cracked the top 10 (ninth and tied for eighth, respectively), his innings pitched total took the entire statistical cake, as his 292.1 innings pitched ranked first in all of baseball, let alone qualified starters.
Well, how does it stack up to other White Sox starters over the same period? Compared to other qualified White Sox starters over the same time period, Lynn’s innings pitched, BB/9, HR/9 and ERA- ranked first, while other statistics ranked second behind only Giolito or was tied with him (FIP).
The writing is blatantly written on the wall at this point. Behind an up-and-coming ace in Giolito, Lynn can act as a durable and strikeout-hungry #2 starter, which can give Chicago a steady 1-2 punch and more cushion should the likes of Keuchel falter in terms of production or health.
Everyone knows what the offense can, and will, do. Everyone knows what Giolito can do moving forward. A no-hitter is all that is needed to see the raw movement and velocity. What was needed, though, was another starter to reinforce the youngster, even if it might only be for one season.
With Lynn now in the fold, consider the fortune much received.