Pitch count, tight forearm end Lynn's night
LOS ANGELES -- Right forearm tightness and an elevated pitch count forced Lance Lynn out of Sunday's start after just five innings. But with another heavy dose of fastballs and some tiptoeing around trouble, Lynn's effort and the stingy relief pitching that followed served as the foundation for a 4-2 win over the Dodgers.
Lynn downplayed the injury afterward, insisting that he's pitched through similar discomfort this year without issue. Manager Mike Matheny noted, too, that the training staff, which examined Lynn in the dugout in the top of the fifth and made a mound visit to him in the bottom of the inning, assured him that the area of tightness was not reason for great concern.
Nevertheless, with Lynnn's pitch count sitting at 98 after five innings, Matheny ended his starter's night. It was the first time this year that Lynn, who ranks second in the National League with an average of 105.5 pitches per game, did not eclipse the 100-pitch mark.
"[It was] one of those, 'Let's go ahead and be smart here,'" Matheny said. "Everything is pointing that it's OK, not that big of a deal. But at 100 pitches, he's about out of the game anyway."
The Dodgers peppered Lynn for six hits, including two RBI knocks from cleanup hitter Justin Turner. The rest of their damage was less tangible, but came in the form of working Lynn through deep counts and long innings.
Los Angeles fouled off 25 of Lynn's 98 pitches, which contributed to the fact that 12 of the 22 batters he faced saw at least five pitches in the plate appearance. Lynn said the laborious early innings -- he threw 27 pitches in the first, 29 more in the third -- exacerbated the forearm issue.
"I had a good fastball," Lynn said. "They weren't able to square it up except for a couple times here or there. That's just part of it. Some nights they swing through those, and some nights they foul them off a lot."
Despite the heavy dose of foul balls, Lynn stuck with one of his three variations of the fastball almost exclusively. He estimated afterward that he used just three offspeed pitches; one of those opposing starter Zack Greinke turned into a hit.
"I was told a long time ago don't try to fix what's not broken," Lynn said. "So if they're not hitting it, there's no point in trying to do something different."
Nevertheless, long innings have become a trend for Lynn through his first 12 starts. He's now averaging 17.3 pitches per inning, the third-highest total among all Major League starters. Could mixing in more offspeed offerings help counter that?
"I think those days when you're having trouble either getting the call or locating your fastball well, if that's your putaway pitch, you're going to have to go with something else instead of one right after the other," Matheny said. "I think there are days when he probably could go a little softer, but it has been working pretty well how he's been going about it."