Jordan Lyles and the Colorado Rockies agreed to a one-year, $2.975 million contract on Wednesday night. On the surface, it may seem like just another offseason news blurb. However, there could be much more to this when the 2016 season rolls around.
Entering his third season with the Rockies, Lyles has endured a number of injuries that have allowed him to put together just 32 starts in two seasons. The right-hander put together his best year in 2014 when he started 22 games and posted a 7-4 record with 4.33 ERA. He also received a lot of help from the Rockies in his 2014 starts as his run support per nine innings was 6.47.
That year also witnessed the first of his Colorado injuries as he missed two months because of a broken left hand he suffered covering the plate in a lopsided loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 5.
Entering 2015, the Rockies had high hopes for Lyles to be a key part of their rotation. However, after 10 less-than-stellar starts (only three of the starts were quality starts on his way to a 2-5 record and 5.14 ERA), Lyles missed the rest of the season after undergoing surgery in May on the medial collateral ligament in his right big toe. It was one of just a series of injuries faced by Rockies pitchers last season that forced manager Walt Weiss to constantly juggle his rotation.
One of the few bright spots for the 25-year-old last season was his penchant for keeping the ball in the park as he allowed just two homers in 49 innings pitched. It’s a small sample size, but one that certainly is attractive to anyone pitching at Coors Field.
Now reportedly healthy and armed with a one-year contract, Lyles will once again be looked to as a big part of the Colorado rotation heading into 2016. If he can avoid injury and revert to 2014 form, Lyles could make a strong third option in the rotation behind Jorge De La Rosa and Jon Gray. That would be a welcome sight for a Colorado pitching staff that finished last in MLB in 2015 with a 5.04 ERA.
There are absolutely a lot of “ifs” in there but the Rockies are more than willing to take a one-year chance on a young pitcher who started last year 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his first four starts. They thought highly enough of him and his future to have him as a piece of the 2013 trade that sent Dexter Fowler to the Houston Astros. In a season where the Rockies have yet to show they’re willing to spend big dollars to bring in a big-name free agent hurler, they’re more than willing to give Lyles a year to fulfill that potential.