SAN DIEGO -- It's tough enough for a young starting pitcher to see himself dropped from the rotation five months into a campaign that was at one point so spectacular, it earned him an All-Star nod.
But the task now facing Lance Lynn is an even more daunting one for a 25-year-old in his first full Major League season. He must bounce back with his first start in two weeks, on the road, against the team breathing down the Cardinals' neck in the National League Wild Card standings, the high-powered Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I'm looking forward to facing a team like that in the situation we're going to be in," Lynn said. "I'm looking forward to it. Should be a good matchup, we're fighting with them right now. It's going to be a big series, and we need to get off to a good start. Hopefully I can do my job."
Lynn was removed from his spot in the St. Louis rotation on Aug. 24 after posting a 6.56 ERA in five August starts, a far cry from the 11-4 record and 3.41 ERA he owned when he made the NL All-Star Team. Two weeks removed from that difficult transition, Lynn said he's been able to learn from the experience.
"It's part of the game. There's ups and downs. I had a really good first half and then the month of August was really bad," Lynn said. "That's part of the learning process of this game. I just have to learn not to let it snowball like it did in the month of August. I think we fixed some things and learned some things through that time, so it should be better from here on out."
He's made six relief outings since losing his starting spot, most recently a scoreless inning against Milwaukee that manager Mike Matheny called "his best outing" since he was moved to the 'pen. During Lynn's time as a reliever, he was able to tinker with some things he said got out of whack during those August struggles.
"We've just been trying to make things simpler in my windup and things like that. A lot of things were just kind of off -- little timing things -- could've been due to any reason," Lynn said. "It was one of those things where I had to try to simplify things and just try to execute pitches."
That's what Lynn will try to do Thursday, though over a much longer outing than he has seen the past two weeks. While he hasn't been able to test his adjustments over more than an inning or two at a time, he says that lightened work load may be a very good thing.
"I feel like my last couple times out of the bullpen I got some things fixed, so I'm looking forward to being able to use those over the whole course of a game instead of just one inning," Lynn said. "I'm sure that I'll be [pitch deep into the game] like I was when I was starting. It's only been two weeks or so, so it's been kind of more of a rest than anything. I'm actually feeling fresher than I had before."