The Milwaukee Brewers have gotten some incredible production out of Jordan Lyles in the second half, and he may be playing his way into a contract.
When the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Jordan Lyles back in July, few thought he would be much more than rotation depth. But he’s been one of the Crew’s best starting pitchers since arriving, proving all of us wrong.
Now, reports are coming out that the Brewer have initiated contract talks with Lyles. Robert Murray of The Athletic (subscription required), had this to say today on his ‘Section 422’ podcast:
"I know we’ve mentioned it before, the possibility of him coming back, even for next year. To my knowledge, the interest right now is mutual between the Brewers and Lyles about coming back. I am under the impression that preliminary talks have taken place, although nothing is close, obviously."
Murray goes on to say that Stearns very rarely talks extensions with players during the season, which goes to show how much they like him.
Well that’s an interesting piece of information. Murray, who has done an excellent job on the Brewers beat, is a very well-sourced journalist that has gotten plenty of big scoops before, so this information would appear to be legit.
Why Extend Lyles?
Clearly, the Milwaukee Brewers are pleased with Lyles’ performance since re-joining the club. He struggled as a starter with Pittsburgh, but with the adjustments they made, he’s turned himself into a solid starting pitcher at the MLB level.
Given the Brewers perennial search for starting pitching help, they must think Lyles could be an answer to that.
For whatever reason, Lyles seems to have success in Milwaukee, similar to what we’ve seen from Jeremy Jeffress. Whether it’s a comfort thing, a coaching thing, whatever it is, he just does well here. That’s not a bad guy to keep around.
However, I wouldn’t anticipate him earning a large sum of money or signing anything longer than a one or two year deal at the most. While he’s the number one or number two starter right now, that’s not what his actual ceiling is. He’s, at best, a mid-rotation starter that’s more likely a back-end rotation type guy, who’s simply overachieving at the moment.
For Lyles, this is a good opportunity to land a solid contract with some guaranteed money on a playoff contender for next year, in a place that he’s had success and feels comfortable. It’s a win-win for him.
Should They Extend Lyles?
This would be a gamble for the Brewers, especially if it’s anything longer than a one year deal. Lyles has been a bright spot so far, no doubt. But his underlying numbers paint a much darker picture.
Lyles has a pristine 2.39 ERA in nine starts, but a 4.44 FIP and a 5.19 xFIP point to an impending regression, similar to what Zach Davies saw earlier this season. Davies had a low, sub-2.00 ERA and a FIP over 4.00 and his next stretch of starts from there saw the regression back to his peripheral stats.
Lyles is currently thriving on an unsustainably low .227 opponent BABIP and a very high 86% runners stranded with the Brewers. These numbers are not possible to keep up over a whole season.
However, Wade Miley had similarly high peripheral stats last season and didn’t implode, and carried that over this year with Houston, having similarly out-pitched his peripherals most of the season. So maybe it’s possible for Lyles to keep it up, not only for this year, but for another year as well.
As Robert Murray pointed out, nothing is close, and we have no details on what kind of contract they discussed. But I would assume it’s nothing more than a short-term contract to bring him back for 2020. This will be a story to watch over the next few weeks.
The Milwaukee Brewers will need Lyles to continue to pitch well over the final few weeks to continue to boost their postseason chances.