JORDAN LYLES, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: October 19, 1990
Drafted: 1st Round, 38th overall pick, 2008 (Astros)
How Acquired: Free Agent
High School: Hartsville (SC) HS
Agent: Ballengee Group
WTM’S PLAYER PROFILE
|Lyles was a surprise pick by the Astros in the supplemental first round of the 2008 draft, as he wasn’t highly rated going into the draft. He moved up the prospect charts, and through the minors, rapidly despite not having overpowering stuff. Houston brought him up in 2011, at age 20, which probably didn’t do him any favors. He struggled through much of three seasons with the Astros before they traded him to Colorado. Lyles got off to a good start there, but began struggling badly in 2016, got moved to the bullpen and was eventually released before being picked up by San Diego. He had more success in relief with the Padres and Brewers, but became a free agent after the 2018 season and signed with the Pirates for 2019.
For most of his career, Lyles relied heavily on a sinker, while also throwing a four seam fastball and a slider, and less often a curve and change. In 2018 he largely scrapped the sinker and went primarily with the four seamer and curve, using them 42% and 39% of the time, respectively, according to brooksbaseball.net. As a starter, he typically threw about 93 mph, while he’s averaged 94-95 as a reliever. The switch in his pitch mix evidently helped. Throughout his career, opponents had hammered both his four-seamer and sinker, but in 2018 they managed only a .319 slugging average against the curve. He generally has had good control, but hasn’t missed many bats, although his K rate picked up a great deal in 2018. Lyles has had only a modest platoon split in the majors, although he hasn’t been especially effective against anybody: left-handed hitters have posted an .816 OPS against him, right-handed hitters .768. He’s generally been a groundball pitcher. Lyles has had a lower xFIP than ERA in every one of his major league seasons, usually quite a bit lower; his career marks are 5.28 for ERA and 4.29 for xFIP. One reason may be that he’s had chronically low strand rates.
Lyles debuted in the advanced rookie level Appalachian League and pitched much better than his ERA indicates, with outstanding walk and K rates. He moved up to full season ball for a pair of late-season starts but had trouble throwing strikes. After the season, Baseball America rated him the sixth best prospect in the Houston system and seventh best in the Appy League.
The Astros kept Lyles in low A all year and he had a strong season. BA ranked him third in the Astros’ system and sixth in the South Atlantic League.
Houston jumped Lyles up to AA and he pitched well there, still with good walk and K rates, but he got hit a little harder. He spent the last month of the season in AAA and got hammered, but he was pitching there as a teenager. BA rated him the Astros’ top prospect and the seventh best in the Texas League. They also rated him 42nd in all of baseball overall.
Lyles returned to AAA to start the season, but Houston called him up at the end of May. he stayed in the majors all year after that, except for a brief return to AAA in late August. He pitched well in AAA without dominating. In the majors he got hit hard, including trouble with gopher balls, as he allowed 14. He didn’t miss many bats at either level, although his control remained good. He pitched mostly as a starter with Houston, relieving in just five of 20 games.
Lyles was up and down several times early in the season, but the Astros brought him to the majors to stay in late May. He ultimately made 25 starts for Houston. Lyles largely struggled until a strong month of September. Left-handed hitters were a problem, battering him for an OPS of .886. He held right-handed hitters to .683.
Lyles started the season in the minors but the Astros brought him up at the beginning of May. He ended up making 25 starts for them again, although he also made five relief appearances. His results at the major league level were very similar to 2012. One difference was that he had a significant reverse platoon split this time. After the season, Houston traded Lyles to Colorado.
Except for a couple of rehab outings, Lyles spent the season with the Rockies. He missed two months starting in early June, though, with a fractured left hand. In 22 starts with Colorado, Lyles improved substantially, especially considering that his home park was Coors Field. He had an xFIP of 3.99. He even kept the gopher balls to a very reasonable 12, although he still didn’t miss many bats. He had a large platoon split, with left-handed hitters posting an .844 OPS against him and right-handed hitters just .654.
Lyles missed the last two-thirds of the season with a sprained toe. When he pitched, the results were more like his time with the Astros than like 2014.
Lyles had a rough season. He struggled through five starts and got sent to the minors, where he didn’t pitch much better. Colorado called him back up in June and he spent the rest of the season in the bullpen, making 35 relief appearances. He wasn’t great in relief, with a 4.42 ERA, but he had an 8.55 ERA in the five starts. Left-handed hitters wore him out for a .902 OPS.
Colorado used Lyles out of the bullpen for the first four months of the season and he pitched badly. The Rockies finally released him at the end of July and he signed a minor league deal with San Diego. The Padres called him up for five starts in September and he got hammered. Gopher balls were a problem throughout, as he allowed 16, or nearly one every four innings. Lyles became a free agent after the season, but re-signed with the Padres for one year, with a team option for 2019.
Lyles began the season in the Padres’ bullpen, but they moved him to the rotation in may and he made eight starts. He had a 4.79 ERA in the starts and 3.33 in the relief appearances. He missed a month starting in late June with elbow inflammation and, after he returned, the Padres put him on waivers. Milwaukee claimed him and he spent the rest of the season in relief, continuing to pitch better. The Brewers nevertheless declined his option and he became a free agent.
The Pirates agreed to terms with Lyles almost simultaneously with trading Ivan Nova to the White Sox. He went into spring training ostensibly competing with Nick Kingham and Steven Brault for the fifth starter job, but the Pirates made it clear that the job more or less belonged to Lyles, even after he pitched poorly in the spring. He opened the season on the injured list, but was expected to be ready by the time the Pirates needed a fifth starter.
|Signing Bonus: $930,000
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: 5/31/2011
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2019
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 5/28/11
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2012, 2013, 2016)
MLB Service Time: 7.002
|June 5, 2008: Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 1st round, 38th overall pick; signed on June 5.
May 28, 2011: Contract purchased by the Houston Astros.
December 3, 2013: Traded by the Houston Astros with Brandon Barnes to the Colorado Rockies for Dexter Fowler.
July 29, 2017: Designated for assignment by the Colorado Rockies; released on August 1.
August 7, 2017: Signed as a minor league free agent by the San Diego Padres.
September 1, 2017: Called up by the San Diego Padres.
November 2, 2017: Became a free agent.
December 17, 2017: Signed as a free agent by the San Diego Padres.
August 5, 2018: Claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers from the San Diego Padres.
October 31, 2018: Became a free agent (contract option declined by Milwaukee Brewers.)
December 11, 2018: Signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.