Everyone expected the Astros to have only one All-Star representative again this year. Early in the season it looked like it would be second baseman Jose Altuve — again. But as the season continues to unfold, a few other players have emerged as All-Star candidates. All week our writers have been making the case for their favorites. In case you missed their earlier posts, click on the writer’s name to catch up. Yoni (Veras), Ray (Norris), Andy (Altuve), and John (Castro) have already been heard from. Today, I will present my case for Jordan Lyles.
When the season started, I never imagined I would be arguing that Jordan Lyles deserved a spot on the American League All-Star team. Lyles had a horrendous Spring Training, pitching his way out of the starting rotation and earning a demotion to AAA. Lyles didn’t exactly set the world on fire while at Oklahoma City. In six games he amassed a 1.52 WHIP and a 5.32 ERA. But with the Astros rotation in shambles, Lyles was called back up on May 2nd to start against the Tigers.
Lyles had been working as part of the tandem pitching rotation in the minors and it took a couple of big league starts for him to get stretched out and prepared to throw 100 or more pitches. Jordan was effective in his first two outings but was lit up by the Rangers in his third start. Since then, Lyles has been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball.
In his last seven starts Lyles has allowed a total of nine runs (8 earned) in 44 & 2/3 innings pitched. He is 3-0 in that span and has lowered his ERA from 6.63 to a stingy 3.22. Lyles has pitched seven innings in each of his last three starts — but only picked up one win. His overall record is 4-1 but Lyles could have twice as many wins with a little better run support. The fact that he has lost only one game on a team with such a poor record is quite impressive. Simply put, Lyles has pitched well enough to win in nine of his ten starts.
Lyles ranks first among Astros starters in ERA (3.22), WHIP (1.28), BAA (.253), and BB/9 IP (2.45). These numbers don’t quite rank Jordan among the AL’s elite, but if he continues to shine he may soon find his way into the top ten in some of these categories.
I understand that Lyles is a longshot to make the All-Star squad. Right now he could be the most deserving player on the team, with the possible exception of Jason Castro. Both players have been key factors in transforming the Astros rotation from the punchline of a bad joke into a formidable group of starters. If he stays hot, Jordan could surge past Castro and force his way onto the team. In a perfect world, both young men will be headed to New York for the Mid-Summer Classic.