Apr 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jordan Lyles (24) hits a RBI double in the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Rockies Defeat White Sox Thanks to Lyles's Brilliant Effort

Jordan Lyles, offensive superstar. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

One pitcher I didn’t get to see in spring training was Jordan Lyles, but now that I’ve seen him in a regular season game, I’m starting to feel like I’d prefer him to Franklin Morales as the 5th starter. As a spot starter for Tyler Chatwood over the last couple of weeks, Lyles has been not great (4 earned runs over 5 innings in Miami on Wednesday) and also amazing (1 earned run over 6 2/3 innings against the White Sox yesterday). Morales has been pretty much as expected (3 earned runs over 5 1/3 innings in Miami). He goes again today, and it will be interesting to see how his second performance compares to that of Lyles. I’m willing to chalk up some of Lyles’s good work to facing an easy lineup; how Morales tackles the same lineup will tell us a lot.

In any case, here’s one thing that was great about Lyles last night: he throws breaking balls and fastballs that might as well be offspeed, but he mixes them so deftly and locates them so sharply that hitters don’t know what to do. All four of his third strikes were swinging, because he got the hitters thinking they knew what to expect and then caught them off guard. Even better, he did it several times through the lineup. The ChiSox couldn’t figure out how to adjust to him. Now again, with a superior group of hitters, this might have been a different outcome. I choose to believe that Lyles just knows what he’s doing.

He appears to know what he’s doing from the plate as well. He went 3-for-3 with 2 RBI, an offensive performance nearly unequaled by the rest of the team (Troy Tulowitzki also went 3-for-3, though he only drove in one run when he hit a homer in the 6th). Obviously, this does not portend great offensive statistics for Lyles’s major league career, but it’s a great thing when a pitcher can help out his cause by knocking in a couple runs. And it’s an especially great thing when the likes of Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez are leaving the bases loaded.

Defensive noteworthies include Charlie Blackmon (great catch in center field), Charlie Culberson (snagged a couple of line drives after he took over for Tulo at short), and Lyles again (initiated a fantastic double play by grabbing Felipe Paulino‘s bunt and firing it to 2nd). And quality 1-2-3 innings from Chad Bettis and Matt Belisle helped seal off the win for Lyles. By the way, the Coors Field faithful rewarded him with a standing ovation when he came off the mound in the 6th. He’ll never forget his debut there, and I’m glad we could acknowledge those efforts.

A solid effort all around, although the leaving-runners-on-base thing was an issue. We’ll leave that for another day. Let’s be happy that a guy who’s not even in our rotation pitched such a gem, and added some quality at-bats and defense into the mix.

Tags: Colorado Rockies

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