You get the feeling that if the first place Chicago White Sox asked veteran starter Lance Lynn to pitch on two days’ rest he’d shrug his shoulders and take the ball.
And then go out there and throw 100 pitches with ease.
Lynn was actually lined up to pitch on three days’ rest, but a rainout altered the plans – and his routine for the week.
No worries. Back on his regular day, Lynn threw six innings of one-run ball against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, keeping himself squarely in the early running for the American League Cy Young award. He may even be the leader.
«He’s earned a really outstanding reputation for being honest and competing as hard as he can,» White Sox manager Tony La Russa said after the 4-1 win.
Lynn and La Russa go back to the last time the manager was in the dugout, in 2011, when both were with the St. Louis Cardinals. Since then, Lynn’s reputation has evolved into a no-nonsense pitcher whose bulldog moniker fits his look and personality. Lynn is the very definition of a low maintenance player.
«That’s what it’s all about,» Lynn said. «You try to take the ball every five days and go as long as you can and help the team. When you leave the game you gave your team a chance to win that day. That’s always been my motto as long as I can remember, even when I was a little kid.»
Lynn’s season to this point has looked easy even if he hasn’t given his team as much length on the mound as he might want. Only one of his 10 starts has lasted less than five innings but only two have gone more than six. That’s the number he went on Thursday though he claimed he could have gone deeper into the game.
But that’s baseball in today’s era. His minuscule 1.23 ERA — the best for a White Sox pitcher through 10 starts since Eddie Cicotte in 1919 — says volumes about his season even if the total innings don’t. He just doesn’t give up much. The Tigers loaded the bases in the second inning, but that rally ended quickly when Lynn struck out Jake Rogers on three pitches.
«I don’t have to be a max effort guy to get outs,» Lynn explained. «When you look at it, I’ve got the ability to change speeds with the fastball and do some things.»
Maybe that’s why it looks so easy. Lynn can hold back for later in an outing, or in this case, later in the season. The White Sox have October aspirations and that’s likely when the workhorse will come out in the 34 year-old. Asked what Lynn has brought to the White Sox this season, his catcher didn’t hesitate.
«Intent,» Yasmani Grandal said. «He knows exactly what he wants to do. He wants to attack guys and he wants to attack the strike zone.»
Simple enough. In fact, Lynn has perfected simple. His acquisition, via an offseason trade with the Texas Rangers, could go down as one of the best winter moves in all of baseball. The Sox traded a young starter, righty Dane Dunning, knowing they only had one year of Lynn before he became a free agent.
Chicago hasn’t thought twice about the deal. Lynn was exactly what the team needed to help take them to another level. He and La Russa have been tasked with exactly that.
«We have history together,» La Russa stated.
If La Russa had to earn the trust of his young players, it was already there with Lynn. It’s why the three days’ rest idea was an easy one to navigate. Of course Lynn would take the ball and of course La Russa would trust him to be honest if he didn’t feel right. The two have picked up where they left off a decade ago.
«I wasn’t worried about it,» Lynn said of pitching on three days’ rest. «We didn’t have to do it but if there comes a time in October when it needs to happen, obviously, I’ll be more than willing to let it fly.»
Was there any doubt?
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