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2019 Most Valuable Brewer #10: Jordan Lyles

The Brewers’ trade deadline acquisition pitched like an ace down the stretch

MLB: San Diego Padres at Milwaukee Brewers Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

At the trade deadline, the Milwaukee Brewers did not acquire Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, Zack Wheeler, Robbie Ray, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, or Mike Minor. Instead they re-acquired Jordan Lyles in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Cody Ponce. The trade worked out swimmingly for Milwaukee as they gave up just a little for a lot of short term success.

After his acquisition, Lyles made 11 starts for the Brewers covering 58.2 innings. He was 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA in that span. Those numbers were just not the same during the first half of the season with Pittsburgh. While there, he was 5-7 with a 5.36 ERA over 82.1 innings. He was striking out almost 10 per game, but had a HR/9 of 1.75 and a BB/9 of 3.61. In fairness his BABIP was inflated at .326.

His performance and luck would change with the trade to Milwaukee. (Something that should not be lost on anyone is that Pittsburgh starting pitchers seem to perform better once they leave Pittsburgh). What is interesting about the change in numbers for Lyles is that his strike out numbers went down (8.59 K/9). He did reduce his walks slightly (3.338 BB/9) and home runs allowed (1.38 HR/9). Most significant was the reduction in BABIP (.225). Is it possible that the Brewers’ pitching gurus are asking certain pitchers, like Lyles, to focus on getting ahead earlier in the count and inducing poor contact over swing and miss?

Whether it was luck or a new approach, Jordan Lyles was quite simply the best starting pitching acquisition down the stretch in the National League. The quality of his performances cannot be understated based on timing either. The challenges to the Brewers’ rotation were significant as you probably remember. Brandon Woodruff was working back from injury and playing only a small role once back. While Adrian Houser pitched well in the rotation, he was not a sure thing nor was he going to provide length. Zach Davies and Chase Anderson pitched well, but they are at best, mid-rotation starters even though they have had stretches of strong performance. Gio Gonzalez stabilized the rotation earlier in the season, but was only giving 3-5 innings per start.

Jordan Lyles produced ace-level performance down the stretch during a playoff race that required one of the great historic September runs in MLB history. Lyles was a huge reason for this. It seems that Jordan Lyles is very comfortable in a Milwaukee uniform (just saying). As a result, the BCB community voted Mr. Lyles the #10 MVBrewer.

Baseball statistics courtesy of Fangraphs