Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tigers interested in Brandon Lyon

The latest rumor floating around Detroit is that there is mutual interest in reliever Brandon Lyon signing with the Tigers and that he may talk to them today. His agent Barry Meister claims that another team has a two year $9 million offer on the table No, the Tigers have not signed Lyon yet and may not sign him at all but I'd rather talk about Lyon than yesterday's acquisition Juan Rincon.

Lyon had a 4.70 ERA in 59 1/3 innings for the Diamondbacks in 2008 but his 44/13 K/BB ratio and 3.84 FIP suggest that he pitched better than his ERA. His outrageous .355 BABIP is another indication that he was probably unlucky last year. His three year ERA of 3.69 is probably a more accurate representation of his ability. In 202 2/3 innings since 2006, he has a very solid 130/57 K/BB ratio.

The 29-year-old right-hander profiles a lot like Todd Jones in that he is a low walk low strikeout pitcher who lets batters to put the ball in play. He throws a little harder than Jones (92 MPH average fastball versus 90 MPH) but is not a power pitcher by any means. Like Jones, Lyons has a good curveball and uses it often (25% of his pitches).

His likely role initially as a Tiger if they sign him would probably be closer. It's been said that Lyons profiles more as a set up man than a closer but his splits suggest otherwise. In 133 career innings where a save opportunity has been present, he has a 3.79 ERA and 83/26 K/BB ratio. In 166 2/3 innings of non-save situations, he has a 4.32 ERA and 118/63 K/BB ratio. In the two years (2005, 2008), where he pitched primarily as a closer Lyons saved 40 games in 46 opportunities. It should be noted, however, that his 8.46 second half ERA last year caused him to lose his closer role to Jon Rauch.

Given the Tigers desperate bullpen situation, I think Lyon would be a good addition. For one, it would add a healthy reliable arm to a bullpen which has few. It would allow them to use Fernando Rodney in the set-up role where he has had more success than closing (3.79 ERA in non-saves versus 4.93 in save situations).

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