CHICAGO -- Lance Lynn has long left little to secret when it comes to what he's throwing. It's almost always a fastball -- one of the three varieties he utilizes. But command issues with his fastball have now complicated a series of recent starts, including three against the teams the Cards are most likely to face in the first round of the postseason.
After lasting just 2 1/3 innings in a Sept. 7 home start against Chicago, Lynn was yanked after 3 1/3 innings in an eventual 8-3 loss at Wrigley Field on Friday. It was the third time in seven starts that Lynn had not reached the four-inning mark, his other brief start coming against the Pirates on Aug. 13. On that day, he retired just two batters.
The common thread through it all has been less-than-superb command with the pitches upon which Lynn relies so heavily.
"He continues to measure up well with what the training staff sees, and he feels good," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's not a real secret what his style is. He comes right at guys. But when you do that, you have to find your control and control the plate. Velocity looks right. Movement looks right. ... With his style of pitching, he's going to have a tough time if he can't locate his fastball."
Lynn doesn't have great room for error because he doesn't showcase much variety. Per brooksbaseball.net, which tracks every pitch type thrown by every pitcher, Lynn had thrown a higher percentage of fastballs (91.3) than any other pitcher with at least two starts this season. Bartolo Colon comes in second.
The curveball that Lynn threw almost a quarter of the time during his rookie season -- and at an 18 percent clip during his first full season as a starter -- has nearly disappeared. He did go to it, as well as his changeup, in the third inning on Friday to try to briefly get the Cubs off his fastball, but then tried to work his way back to what he knows best. However, by then, he was already almost out of leash.
So could there perhaps be value in more pitch variety?
"Why rewrite what he's done as a career?" Matheny said. "That's the pitcher he is. You watch him go out and dominate certain teams. ... He's got to figure out how to maybe stall until he finds that groove for his fastball."
Lynn, who is 0-3 with a 7.64 ERA against the Cubs this season, felt he also deserved a better line. On a day when he walked a career-high six, he snapped at home-plate umpire Dan Bellino after coming out of the game.
"We disagreed," Lynn said afterward, adding that he thought opposing starter Dan Haren was getting strike calls that he wasn't.
Matheny, though, disagreed with Lynn's own assessment.
"I'm not complaining about the strike zone because he wasn't consistent enough to complain about the strike zone," Matheny said. "We had enough misses all over the place."