Lyles' 10 years of service time no small feat

September 18th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- On the surface, Rangers right-hander is like any other veteran starter for any club. He goes out every five days, tosses six or seven innings before turning it over to the bullpen and coming out again five days later.

But Lyles has been much more than that for the Rangers this season, especially after the Trade Deadline. At the start of 2021, Lyles was one of multiple veterans on the Rangers’ pitching staff, alongside then-ace Kyle Gibson and then-closer Ian Kennedy. Now, he anchors a youthful rotation on and off the field.

That fact was on full display Friday night, when, following the Rangers' loss to the White Sox, the team and staff honored Lyles for reaching 10 full years of Major League service time. During that time, Lyles has appeared in 286 games and made 179 starts, posting a 5.22 ERA. He’s played with six teams since his debut season in 2011, spending the last two years with the Rangers.

According to the MLB Players Association, fewer than 10 percent of players in baseball history have played for a decade or more.

“It was a really cool moment for him, and the team, honestly,” said manager Chris Woodward. “I thought Jordan gave a really good, heartfelt speech to the team and talked about some really cool things with our players, especially with a young team. His speech was right on point, talking about being a good teammate, and the things that he'll remember are being with the team, remember in that moment with the guys, that's what he's going to remember the most. ... There's a lot of ups and downs, obviously, like in any career, but I really appreciate his humility. It's an amazing accomplishment to get 10 years.”

Lyles said he got a lot of calls from friends and family all day, but he was shocked by the ceremony in the clubhouse after the game.

“It kind of caught me off guard and I was a lot more emotional than I thought I was going to be,” Lyles said. “I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what was coming out. I kind of blacked out. But 10 years is special. It started to set in last night when everyone took time out of their day after the game to just celebrate me and that accomplishment. It's really amazing.”

Even with 10 years of service time under his belt, Lyles doesn’t often feel like a veteran or put himself on the same level with some of those older players. At 30 years old, he admits it’s been pretty weird being the oldest in the rotation and most experienced on the staff.

“I've never been too much of a vocal leader,” Lyles said. “I like to have more personal conversations one-on-one with guys [rather] than stand up in front of a group and talk. [Kennedy and Gibson] were good at that stuff. I leaned on them a lot, but since they’ve been gone, it's been different. Guys come to me more often for questions and I just try to be honest with them. I try to tell them how to go about certain things. I enjoy it a little bit, but overall, it's weird and different but I enjoy being around these guys.”

Dane Dunning and Taylor Hearn, two of the younger pitchers in the rotation, emphasized that Lyles has been a vital part of the team. He’s helped the two of them with their own personal growth, both on and off the field, throughout this season.

One thing both Dunning and Hearn pointed to was Lyles’ speech after the ceremony. The biggest message Lyles tried to convey was the importance of being the same person every time you walk into the clubhouse and onto the field.

“Your big league career goes by fast, so enjoy it, and that's what Jordan was saying,” Hearn said. “To just be a part of that moment with him was huge. He’s a great guy and a really great teammate from top to bottom. He’s the same guy all the time. He's a true definition of what a real, true teammate is.”