Just a couple weeks ago, I wrote a big piece on this very website about Jordan Lyles, and how 2016 needs to be his "third time's the charm" season after losing significant parts of two seasons to bizarre non-throwing-arm injuries. And now, here we are on his 2015 player review post. You've already got the angle.
Before we get there, though, a look back; while it may not feel like it after such a long, interminable slog through the Rockies' 2015 season, Lyles did start ten games this year. He was doing well enough, too, until a toe injury started affecting him pretty seriously in his final few starts before being shut down for the season.
In his ten starts, Lyles threw 49 innings, with a 1.490 WHIP, 5.14 ERA, and an impressive 3.79 FIP. His numbers in 2015 are a bit deceiving, though; in addition to two bad starts while pushing through the toe injury that ended up eventually shutting him down, Lyles also had one start of just one inning (the day he was injured in the first place), and one start of 1.1 IP (where he was removed early from the game and shelved for the year).
Lyles entered May 13 -- when he was hit with the line drive that started the toe trouble -- having started six games, throwing 36.2 IP, allowing 18 runs (4.42 ERA) on 38 hits and 17 walks. Sure, those aren't world beater numbers, but if he'd been able to start 30 games on that pace, it would've helped the Rockies quite a bit the rest of the summer and prevented them from giving as many starts as they did to Chris Rusin, Yohan Flande, and David Hale.
But that didn't happen, and here we are with Lyles shelved before June, left to watch his teammates from the dugout for the final four months of another poor season. And here we are, once again feeling so... unsatisfied.
Lyles' 2016 outlook
Lyles will need to be healthy in 2016, or else soon thereafter he'll be passed up by young pitchers (Jon Gray and Jeff Hoffman, also perhaps Eddie Butler, Tyler Matzek, Harrison Musgrave, and whomever else is on the way) as the Rockies pivot to their future.
That'd be a shame. Lyles is young himself, has big league experience, and he's relatively cheap for the next two years before he goes to free agency in 2018. But cheap doesn't matter much if you can't stay on the field in the first place, and because of that, 2016 is a show-me year for Lyles in Denver.
Let's be honest: in a hyper-competitive environment like Major League Baseball, every year is a "make-or-break' year for virtually every player, so it's not just that with Lyles. But after two lost seasons, prospects coming through in the club's re-build, and free agency looming in a couple years, Lyles is quickly approaching a point where his success (or failure) will force the Rockies' hand. By this time next year, we'll know for certain whether or not Lyles has a future in Denver.