ARLINGTON, Texas — Over the past few years, the Texas Rangers have struck gold on a few three-year deals for pitchers who were looking for a fresh start elsewhere. But the one the Rangers hit on more than any other was when they signed Lance Lynn to a three-year, $30 million contract ahead of the 2019 season.
In two seasons with the Rangers, Lynn not only revived his career, but took it to a whole new level. Lynn became a Cy Young candidate in both seasons with the Rangers and proved himself to still be a legitimate workhorse that can pitch atop just about any rotation in baseball.
With the Rangers heading for a full-fledged rebuild, they opted to cash in on Lynn's value last winter and traded him to the Chicago White Sox for Dane Dunning and Avery Weems.
In his first time visiting Globe Life Field since he left, Lynn still appreciates and values his short-yet-impactful time with the Rangers. After all, Lynn will forever hold a place in Rangers history as the starting pitcher of the final game at Choctaw Stadium (née The Ballpark in Arlington) and the first game at Globe Life Field, earning the win in both.
But despite the Cy Young nominations and the honor of christening a new ballpark, there's just one thing that was missing for Lynn.
"I would have loved to win more," Lynn said in an exclusive interview with InsideTheRangers.com. "My time here was awesome. Great people. Great organization. I had a lot of friends that I took with me when I left.
"Bobby Wilson and I go way back. We've been able to stay in touch and all that. The pitchers are the big ones I've stayed in touch with, so I've texted with Jordan Lyles and [others]. It's good to see everybody. I'm just trying to come in and enjoy the weekend."
We've seen several former Rangers make their returns to Texas this season. Rougned Odor came back as a member of the New York Yankees and was greeted kindly by the Rangers faithful. Elvis Andrus made his return in June with the Oakland A's and received a welcome only fit for a king.
As Lynn makes his return to Texas, with a start on Saturday night on the docket, Lynn's just trying to make it as simple as possible.
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"It's just another series; another place to go," Lynn said. "But when you know the whole staff and everyone here and you get to go back and see people you think very highly of and you enjoyed being around, those time are always fun. So when I knew we were coming down here, I was obviously looking forward to it.
"I know that the team is a little different, personnel-wise, than I was with last year. There's some new faces, but there's also some guys on the team that I still think very highly of and have good friendships with. So it's fun to come back."
Of course, no conversation with Lance Lynn should go without talking pitching. As Lynn goes into Saturday night's start, he carries with him a 2.50 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 4.9 bWAR. He's as formidable a foe on the mound that he was in his two seasons with the Rangers. What's special about Lynn is his ability to throw almost exclusively fastballs (a four-seam, two-seam and cutter) in an era where pitchers are using breaking balls and offspeed stuff more than ever.
In his two season with Texas, Lynn increased his fastball usage from 87.5 percent in 2019 to 90.5 percent in 2020. This season, with a deep Chicago team, Lynn is throwing his three fastballs 92.4 percent of the time.
Needless to say, Lynn is the best in the game at attacking hitters with a variation of fastballs.
"I think the big thing is hitters aren't comfortable because they don't know which one is coming or which side of the plate," Lynn explained. "Hitters are more comfortable when they know you like to throw slow stuff and they know your fastball stays on one side of the plate. You just try to make sure you command the ball on both sides of the plate, in and out, up and down. If you do that, the hitter can't sit on you and they can't get comfortable. That's the main thing: trying to make sure that they've gotta cover all four corners of the strike zone. If you do that, you're going to have a good chance to be successful."
On Saturday night, expect a warm reception from the Rangers faithful for Lance Lynn. Even though Globe Life Field will be a comfortable 72 degrees, also expect a high dosage of heat.
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