Brandon Lyon signed a three-year $15 million Free Agent contract with the Astros prior to the 2010 season. His first season in Houston was outstanding. Lyon earned six wins and 20 saves while posting a 3.12 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. He converted his last 18 save opportunities and the Astros had an equally nice run to finish the year. Last season was another story.
I would imagine everyone still remembers Lyon’s disappointing performance in Philadelphia on Opening Day 2011. Lyon coughed up six straight hits to the Phillies and was tagged with the loss. Lyon never got on track and something was obviously awry with the veteran right-hander. Soon it was disclosed that he had been pitching with a sore shoulder. The Astros diagnosed Lyon with biceps tendinitis and a partially torn rotator cuff. Lyon attempted to rehab the injury and was activated in early June after spending a month on the disabled list. Lyon continued to struggle and landed back on the D.L. Much like the Astros, his season was over in the middle of June.
On June 30 Lyon had surgery to reattach his biceps tendon and repair a torn labrum. Lyon has been rehabbing the arm and should be ready for Spring Training. As the only experienced closer on the roster, Lyon will be competing for ninth inning dutes. But nothing is set in stone. The competition should be wide open. If Lyon is indeed healthy he has a good shot at reclaiming his job as the Astros closer. If he does so and has a good first half of the season, I would expect Lyon to become trade bait.
The success of the team has mirrored that of Lyon since he was signed two years ago. Let’s hope Brandon is healthy and ready to compete in 2012. If so he can help the team on the field as well as in the trade market.