Jordan Lyles

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Jordan Horton Lyles

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Biographical Information[edit]

Jordan Lyles was drafted by the Houston Astros out of high school in the supplemental 1st round of the 2008 amateur draft, with the 38th pick. He was signed by scout J.D. Alleva and scouting supervisor Clarence Johns for a $930,000 bonus and made his pro debut that summer.

In the 2010 Futures Game, Lyles pitched the 6th inning for the USA in a 9-1 win. Relieving Mike Minor, he retired Hak-ju Lee and Yonder Alonso. Pedro Báez pinch-hit for Alex Liddi and singled but Lyles got Carlos Peguero swinging to end the inning. He was relieved by Shelby Miller.

Lyles was the youngest player in the major leagues when he made his debut for the Houston Astros on May 31, 2011. Pitching against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, he was outstanding, holding the Cubs scoreless through 7 innings, before giving up a pair of baserunners to start the 8th; both of them came to score as the bullpen faltered (one of the runs being unearned) and he stood to be the losing pitcher in spite of his great performance. He had given up only 5 hits, walked none and struck out 4 over the 7 innings. However, his teammates picked him up with a 6-run outburst against Cubs closer Carlos Marmol in the top of the 9th to win the game, 7-3; he ended up with a no-decision. He struggled in his second start on June 5, though, allowing 3 1st-inning runs to San Diego and leaving after 4 innings, being charged with a 7-2 loss. He was in fact winless in his first 11 career starts, an Astros record, before coming out on the right end of the ledger on August 3rd, when he beat the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4, to improve his record to 1-5. He got some support from former minor league teammate J.D. Martinez, who hit his first major league homer and added a two-run double in the game. After he won his second game on August 20th, the Astros announced he would be sent down to AAA to finish the year pitching out of the bullpen, in an effort to limit the number of innings he would pitch that season.

On August 18, 2012, Lyles was the loser of the last game managed by Brad Mills with the Astros. Lyles gave up 6 runs without recording an out in the 5th inning that day, having earlier given up a run in the 2nd inning. All six batters came in to score in what became a 9-run inning and Lyles was charged with the 12-4 loss, bringing his record to 2-10 on the year. After the game, Mills, hitting coach Mike Barnett and first base coach Bobby Meacham were all fired. Fittingly, he gave new manager Tony DeFrancesco his first win as a major league skipper when he beat the New York Mets, 3-1, in his next start on August 24th. The Astros had lost their first four games under their new manager up to that point. He finished the season at 5-12, 5.09 in 25 starts and 141 1/3 innings. In 2013, the Astros' first season in the American League, he was the team's top winner, although that was only courtesy of a 7-9 record for an awful team that lost a franchise-record 111 games. He made 25 starts in 27 appearances, pitched 141 2/3 innings and had a 5.69 ERA, but none of the Astros' other starters managed to win more than 6 games that year. On December 3rd, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies along with CF Brandon Barnes in return for CF Dexter Fowler and a player to be named later, with no guarantee that he would continue to be a starter in 2014, given his lackluster results up to that point.

However, Lyles took advantage of some early injuries to land a spot in the Rockies' starting rotation at the beginning of 2014 and once there began to pitch very well. An 8-2 win over the Texas Rangers on May 5th improved his record to 4-0 and he was sporting an excellent 2.62 ERA after 7 starts. He was at 5-1, 3.46 on June 4th when he broke his left hand in the 1st inning when he tried to tag out Martin Prado of the Arizona Diamondbacks at home plate after throwing a wild pitch. He stayed until the 4th before being eventually forced to leave the game. On June 11th, Tyler Matzek made his big league debut as a starter with the Rockies; coincidentally, the two share the same date of birth. On August 28th, he broke up Yusmeiro Petit's major league-record streak of 46 consecutive batters retired when he doubled to left in the 3rd inning of a game against the San Francisco Giants. He then scored on Charlie Blackmon's single, but was charged with his team's 4-1 loss after giving up 3 runs on 4 hits in 6 innings. In 22 starts, he went 7-4, 4.33 while pitching 126 2/3 innings.

Lyles started the 2015 season slowly, as he was 2-5, 5.14 in his first 10 starts. On May 23rd, he sprained his toe and then aggravated the injury in his next start, on May 31st, when he tried to avoid a ball hit back through the middle, tearing a ligament. He was placed on the disabled list two days later and did not pitch again that season. In 2016, he made just 5 starts in his 40 appearances for Colorado, ending up at 4-5, 5.83 with 1 save. He pitched just 58 23 innings and had almost as many walks (28) as strikeouts (32). He was back with Colorado in 2017, but continued to struggle badly, putting up an ERA of 6.94 in 33 games, his only two decisions being losses. He was released on August 1st and signed with the San Diego Padres, where he was placed in the starting rotation. Results were no better, though, as he went 1-3, 9.39 in his 5 starts.

Lyles started the 2018 season in the bullpen for San Diego, but on May 10th made his first start after Bryan Mitchell lost his spot due to poor results. On May 15th, he became the latest Padres pitcher to make an unsuccessful bid to throw the first no-hitter in franchise history, as he retired the first 22 batters he faced in a start against the Colorado Rockies. He struck out Carlos Gonzalez to open the top of the 8th, his 10th strikeout on the day, but then allowed a single to Trevor Story to break up the attempt. He was replaced by [Kirby Yates]] after following with a walk to Pat Valaika and received credit for the 4-0 win. He went 2-4, 4.29 in 24 games with the Padres, with 8 starts. On August 5h, he was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers and spent the remainder of the season in their bullpen, making 11 appearances and going 1-0, 3.31. He was left off the postseason roster however.

In 2019, he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent. In 17 starts, he went 5-7, 5.36, although his K/W ratio of 90/33 in 82 1/3 innings was quite solid. He had started strong (4-1, 1.97) then faded badly (1-6, 9.57), dropping his last six decisions for the Bucs. On July 29th, the Brewers acquired him for the second straight year, this time giving up minor leaguer Cody Ponce in return for his services. He gave the Brewers an immediate boost, as on July 31st, he defeated the Oakland Athletics, 4-2, allowing just 3 hits in 5 innings. He went 7-1, 2.45 in 11 starts for the Brewers to finish with a combined record of 12-8, 4.15, setting a personal best for wins; his 141 innings were also just two outs short of his total in 2013. However, he did not get to pitch in the postseason as the Brewers lost the Wild Card Game to the Washington Nationals, who would go on to win the 2019 World Series.

He signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers before the 2020 season, which ended up being cut to just 60 games by the COVID-19 pandemic. He made just 12 appearances that year, 9 of them starts, and ended up with a disappointing record of 1-6, 7.02. The 45 earned runs he allowed were the most by any pitcher in the American League that year. In 2021, he improved somewhat for a rangers team starved for pitching, going 10-13, 5.15 in 32 games, 30 of them starts. He set a new personal innings record with 180 and once again was a league leader in some negative categories, in this case earned runs allowed once again (103) and home runs allowed (38). After the season, he signed with the Baltimore Orioles and had one of his best seasons in 2022 for a much-improved Orioles team, finishing at 12-11, 4.42 in 32 games. He served as a veteran leader on a young pitching staff and turned the solid performance into a contract with the Kansas City Royals for 2023. However, things fell completely apart for him as the Royals lost each of his first 15 starts that year, the longest such streak to start a season in major league history. On June 20th, his record stood at 0-11, 6.72, he was leading the AL in losses, and the Royals had the second worst record in the majors, percentage points ahead of the Oakland Athletics. He finally won a game on June 24th, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-4, in his 16th start of the season.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL Complete Games Leader (2023)

Further Reading[edit]

  • A J Cassavell: "Lyles' near perfecto just latest close call for SD: Righty falls 5 outs shy of franchise's first perfect game (or no-hitter) in win over Rockies",, May 16, 2018. [1]
  • Joey Johnston: "With long-awaited win, KC ends drought not seen in 103 years",, June 24, 2023. [2]

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