The Pittsburgh Pirates have added left-handed relief help with the signing of Tyler Lyons to a minor league deal for the 2019 season.
A year after the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Kevin Siegrist to a minor league deal – though that deal ended in a strange fashion with the refusal to show up to Triple-A Indianapolis – the Pirates turn to the well of DFA’d St. Louis Cardinals left-handed relievers once again. John Dreker of Pirates Prospects has reported that the Pirates have signed Lyons to a minor league contract for the upcoming season.
In 2018, Tyler Lyons pitched to a 8.64 ERA and 6.32 DRA, as his groundball rate dropped to 28.3 percent and the walk rate rose to 9.6 percent. He also posted around a league average strikeout rate (22.9 percent) and his swing and miss rate (9.9 percent) was 0.8 percentage points from the average. The southpaw pitched only in 16.7 innings before being designated for assignment and he posted a 2.96 ERA in 24.3 innings for the Memphis Redbirds, the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate.
In 2017, Lyons posted a 2.83 ERA and 4.27 DRA, but his strikeout rate of 30.9 percent is intriguing. The downside comes with the 10.3 percent swinging strike rate, where based on the relationship of swinging strike rate and strikeout rate, Lyons should have struck out just 21.2 percent of hitters.
The lefty sits around 90 miles per hour with both his fastball and sinker, and he has thrown his slider over half the time the last two years, tossing it 51.9 and 55.9 percent of the time respectively. For 2019, STEAMER projects Lyons at a 4.17 ERA and 23.2 percent strikeout rate. For reference, STEAMER has Steven Brault at a 3.98 ERA and 22.5 percent strikeout rate. Brault is coming off a season in which he got a swing and miss 9.9 percent of the time as well. The two pitchers have similar profiles and project similarly.
Lyons will have a shot to compete for a bullpen spot in the spring, but he should serve as depth, at least to start the season. With Lyons projecting and having such a similar profile to Brault, the Pirates quest for left-handed relief help should continue.
*Numbers from Fangraphs