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Mike Matheny Breaks Down Daniel Lynch’s Rough Start vs. Tigers

A combination of mistakes and less-than-stellar stuff plagued Lynch on Friday night.

The 2022 season has been one of ups and downs for Kansas City Royals lefty Daniel Lynch, and Friday night's outing against the Detroit Tigers was another example of that.

While Lynch was able to strike out four Tigers in just 3.2 innings pitched and didn't issue a single walk in his performance, just about everything else was subpar. On the box score, Lynch was charged with a whopping 10 hits and six earned runs. Four of those runs came on balls hit out of the park, which was a testament to Detroit having Lynch's number. After the game, Royals manager Mike Matheny pointed to mistakes that may have led to the poor performance. 

"Some untimely mistakes," Matheny said. "You look at four of the six runs [that] were on 2-0 fastballs that got middle. They're not going to miss those. At times, he showed some pretty good stuff. He had trouble replicating when he was trying to drive it into the third base side and then tried going there a couple of times. Once again, [he] got too much of the plate." 

Here's Lynch's pitch usage from Friday night:

Pitch TypeAmount Thrown+/- Season Percentage

Four-Seam Fastball

33 (38%)

-6.2%

Changeup

28 (32%)

+14.4%

Slider

21 (24%)

-7.6%

Curveball

4 (5%)

+0.7%

Sinker

2 (2%)

-0.3%

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Lynch went to his changeup far more often than he typically does, and Matheny thinks it was a very solid offering for the 25-year-old against Detroit. On the other hand, his slider didn't have the bite it normally boasts and his oft-average fastball was less than stellar against a lineup that was desperate to gain some confidence. Lynch's pitch mix — erratic — matched his command on Friday. Here's more from Matheny:

"He gets hit hard when he's got too much of the plate and he gets into those favorable counts," Matheny said. "He wasn't keeping them off speed. I thought it was one of the better changeups he had — he just wasn't getting in counts where he could be more creative. He had to challenge and got big parts of the plate, and that ends up being extra-base hits."

As told by Lynch's pitch chart, he simply couldn't avoid the middle of the plate enough. He did a quality job locating the majority of his changeups low and away from right-handed hitters, but even that offering got away from him at times. Lynch's fastball, in particular, was left in the heart of the plate too often. He didn't have remotely close to his sharpest control over his pitches, and that reared its ugly head time and time again. 

On the year, Lynch's ERA is now all the way up to 5.14. He's had moments in 2022 that have featured flashes of improvement from 2021 but for the most part, Lynch still struggles to put everything together for any meaningful period of time. Incremental improvements in strikeouts and walks per nine innings are nice, but Lynch is also giving up a higher frequency of home runs and his peripherals haven't been that much nicer to him. 

A quick look at Lynch's Baseball Savant page will show just how much he's missed the mark. Among all big-league pitchers, he ranks in the bottom 25% of baseball in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, barrel rate, xBA, xSLG, curve spin, fastball spin and xERA/xwOBA. When he gets hit, he gets hit hard. An underwhelming fastball and inconsistent supporting pitches will do that to a young pitcher, and there's still a lot of work for Lynch to do before he becomes what the Royals hope he'll be.

As Kansas City looks ahead to its 2023 rotation, it's unlikely that it will rely solely on the youth it has now. Brady Singer has cemented himself as a long-term piece but other than that, there's a varying level of uncertainty for his peers behind him. Lynch is in that group, and a player who many still believe can fix things is now 38 starts into his career and has yet to turn the corner. With just a few weeks of baseball left to play in 2022, the hope for both Lynch and the Royals is that he can have some success.