Lyles' tweaked mechanics on display in spring debut
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles, who pitched the last three seasons with the Astros and is trying to make a good impression on his new team, tested his tweaked fastball mechanics in his first Cactus League outing on Saturday afternoon.
Lyles gave up two runs (one earned) and three hits while pitching the first two innings of a 3-2 loss to the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark.
The Rockies are letting pitchers challenge Juan Nicasio for the fifth spot and look as if they'll need another starter to begin the season as they make sure that Jhoulys Chacin recovers from his right shoulder strain. Lyles, 23, is in that mix.
However, Lyles -- perhaps rushed to the Majors by the struggling Astros -- has had issues with innings spinning out of control, and one way to attack that is solidifying the mechanics of his fastball. The Rockies want his left leg to land more solidly, so he's not just free-falling toward the plate. On Saturday, Lyles' fastball ranged 91-94 mph. When it was down, the movement was better.
"I was definitely pleased by the way balls were coming off the bats," Lyles said. "I got six outs, and five of them were groundballs, and a strikeout. You can't complain about that. This whole spring, I've been working on my delivery with Jim [Wright, the pitching coach]."
Lyles gave up a Brayan Pena double and a Ramon Santiago RBI single in the second inning, and Santiago later scored on a passed ball charged to catcher Jordan Pacheco. But Lyles tested his fastball against hitters. He threw three changeups -- his go-to pitch with the Astros -- and two curveballs. He looks forward to putting the mechanical issues behind him so he can concentrate on competing.
"This one and the next one are working on [the fastball] inside and out, and the delivery part," he said. "With a start or so left in camp, that's when you just throw everything out there and get physically and mentally ready to go Opening Day."
Manager Walt Weiss took the outing as a positive as the Rockies not only evaluate but get to know their new pitcher, who came with outfielder Brandon Barnes in the trade that sent center fielder Dexter Fowler to the Astros.
"He's a guy that can help us," Weiss said. "He's working on some things with Jimmy [Wright] mechanically, but nothing big. It was good to see him out there. He's trying to apply some of the things he's trying to do this spring."