Tyler Lyons was in a very different place this spring compared to last. In 2013, the left-hander joined St. Louis Cardinals camp as an unproven prospect, though the 26-year-old had led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with three complete games after his mid-season promotion from Double-A.
It was not a surprise when Lyons opened 2013 with Memphis. Last May 22, that all changed. Lyons joined St. Louis' rotation due to Jaime Garcia's injury. The Texan excelled out of the gate, becoming the first starting pitcher in Major League history to throw seven-plus innings in his first two career starts, allowing one run or less, four hits or less and one walk or less.
Overall with St. Louis, Lyons started and relieved. He was 2-4 with a 5.56 ERA as a starter (43 2/3 innings over eight starts) and 0-1 with an 0.96 ERA in relief (9 1/3 innings over four appearances).
With Memphis, Lyons went 7-2 with a 3.32 ERA covering 17 appearances, 16 starts. He struck out a team-leading 86 batters in 100 1/3 innings. Lyons was the July Pitcher of the Month named by the Cardinals organization and The Cardinal Nation and was TCN's Memphis Starter of the Year.
In 2014 spring training camp, Lyons started strongly, but faltered in his later outings and was sent to minor league camp on March 19. Overall this spring, over eight frames, Lyons' ERA was 14.63. He struck out six, but walked four. Especially damaging was three home runs allowed. Opposing batters hit a collective .368 against him.
He quickly righted his ship in minor league camp and opened the season back in Memphis' rotation. Out of the gates, Lyons went 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in three starts for the Redbirds with 18 strikeouts and just five walks in 19 innings. Again an injury in St. Louis' rotation, this time by Joe Kelly, created an opportunity and again, Lyons was ready.
Upon his recall, Lyons took the ball on Monday in New York. He made a quality start, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings. Lyons fanned seven Mets, but received no run support and took the loss. He will make his second start on Saturday afternoon against the Pirates in St. Louis.
In the following interview, Lyons discusses his path taken over the last 12 months.
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