Pressed into duty, Lyons proves capable fill-in

Pressed into duty, Lyons proves capable fill-in

ST. LOUIS -- Tyler Lyons had just settled onto the bullpen bench when he was called into work on Friday, just minutes after Carlos Martinez had thrown his first pitch.

That's because Martinez would throw only six more, his night abruptly ending due to shoulder tightness. Lyons became the first of seven relievers to follow and pitched well enough to hand a lead off to Carlos Villanueva. It would eventually wither away -- the Brewers, with a home run off Trevor Rosenthal, would earn a 4-3 victory -- but Lyons again showed himself a reliable fill-in.

And if Martinez is to miss any time, Lyons might be doing even more of that.

Martinez exits with injury

"[You] never want to see a guy walk off the field, seven pitches in, injury, whatever reason it is," Lyons said. "Not something you hope for, for sure. When it happens, try to pick him up, get the team through later innings."

Lyons has filled a variety of roles for the Cardinals this season. He's made seven spot starts and eight relief appearances, three of which required him to cover more than one inning. Though the Cardinals wanted to wait until after Martinez's MRI exam on Saturday to determine his availability for another regular-season start, Lyons seems the likely replacement should Martinez not be ready to go.

He retired the first eight batters he faced on Friday and struck out five straight at one point. Logan Schafer's double off the tip of Jason Heyward's glove snapped that string of outs, and a wild pitch cost him one run. Otherwise, Lyons was efficient, throwing 45 pitches over his 3 2/3-inning effort.

"I was able to locate the fastball, a couple changeups, sliders, little bit of everything," Lyons said. "[I was able to] stay down in the zone, get ahead in the count, then get in a situation where you try to finish someone off."

It was the most pitches Lyons had thrown since needing 87 to get through a six-inning spot start on Sept. 2. Building off this extended relief appearance, Lyons said he felt he could give the Cardinals enough length as a starter should they need him in that role.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.