Much has been made about the work done by Beloit starting pitchers this season. Many of those starters have already graduated to the California League, so it makes sense that a hurler like Jared Lyons has been overlooked for his work out of the bullpen.
The Oakland A’s ninth-round pick in the 2015 draft out of Liberty University is saving his best for the end of the season, as he’s currently working on a streak of 14 consecutive scoreless innings over his past nine appearances. During that stretch, which goes back to July 22nd, he has allowed just eight hits and posted a 17:4 K:BB rate.
"I'm just having fun and enjoying every moment I get out here with the guys,” said Lyons, who prefers a simple approach to his job. “Everything is working on the mound and I'm very comfortable out there. I'm throwing strikes, mixing my pitches up and have had good success with my change-up. That's probably been the biggest factor."
The 6'0'', 190-pound southpaw currently works in a four-pitch mix that includes two- and four-seam fastballs, a changeup and slider. His two-seam sits between 88 and 90 MPH.
Lyons’ current streak has dropped his season ERA to 1.72. He leads all Snappers pitchers in appearances with 41, in which he’s thrown 52.1 innings. His 61:16 K:BB rate is a good indicator of the success he’s had.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround this season for Lyons, who struggled mightily in his professional debut in 2015. After signing with the A’s, he made 12 relief appearances for short-season Vermont and surrendered 20 earned runs on 32 hits across 14.2 innings.
He struggled out of the gates to open 2016, but settled down and has been a consistent option out of the bullpen since.
"At the beginning I got the jitters going out there,” he said. “I was trying to find everything. I'd say at the beginning of June is when everything started feeling right. You need to be aggressive as a bullpen guy late in the game. If you're timid out there they've got you.”
Having pitched in as many games as he has this season, Lyons has also gotten a pretty good feel for what he’ll face on a daily basis.
“You see the regular batters for all of the teams and kind of get an idea of what kind of pitches they don't like and what to throw to them,” he said. “I adapt to different situations, like when we've got men on base and I need to shut them out and do my job."
Despite all of his success, Lyons said he’s constantly trying to perfect his craft by improving in certain areas.
"My slider has been working well and I've been throwing coming in on righties with it, but I need to keep working on throwing my fastball inside on righties,” he said. “You don't want to go away on fastballs, because they just lean on that side and take it to the opposite field. That comes with the aggressive part and getting in on them."
Ed. Note: After this article was published, Lyons was promoted to High-A Stockton
The 23-year-old is certainly on the fast track to making his 2017 debut with the Stockton Ports of the California League.