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Jordan Lyles’ time with the Colorado Rockies ended with a whimper

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He was here for a long time but not for a good time

MLB: Colorado Rockies-Spring Training Media Day Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 2017 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at the in-season contributions of every player to don the purple this past season. The goal wasn’t and isn’t to quibble with order. Instead, it’s to get a snapshot of a player along with a look forward. For that reason, we simply sorted by Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement (rWAR) and will start at the bottom and end up at the top.

No. 38 Jordan Lyles (-0.5 WAR)

In a lot of ways, Jordan Lyles represented more than himself. A product of a bygone front office, a mistake that lived longer than most hoped, Lyles was one of Dan O’Dowd’s last acquisitions as the General Manager of the Rockies in 2014.

Lyles’ 2017 was as predictable as it was disappointing, the pitcher spent most of 2016 struggling to regain any semblance of effectiveness. This season saw that semblance of effectiveness disappear entirely and any chance he had of sticking with the Rockies disappeared with it.

In 46 innings, Lyles allowed 37 runs (36 earned), he surrendered 11 home runs and 61 total hits. He rarely had a good appearance and his bad ones were classified by the Geneva Convention as a form of torture in early July. With some players, a hot start fades away into a player clearly overmatched by the talent he faces. For Lyles, that wasn’t even remotely the case. He surrendered three runs to Los Angeles on April 9, six runs over two disastrous games against Washington in late April, and gave up a walk off home run to Daniel Descalso on April 30. There was no hot streak for Jordan, no honeymoon era as batters shook off the cold air of winter. He got hit immediately, he got hit hard, and he never showed even the smallest signs of effectiveness.

There is not a very rosy way to paint Jordan Lyles’ 2017 season. It was bad. It was a mistake to tender him a contract, and the Rockies got burned for it. Lyles’s season with the Rockies ended with a designation for assignment on August 1st. He finished the year with the Island of Misfit Pitchers in San Diego. The era ended with a whimper, and its only regret may have been that it was an era two years too long.

Too often, we find ourselves judging baseball on its day to day events. We construct micro narratives that help us discuss the current things happening. With Lyles, this day to day narrative was mostly filled with watching him give up hit after hit and be unable to work himself out of trouble. Lyles represented moments where the Rockies went from losing to getting blown out. He represented the times when games went from fun to miserable. In the end, Jordan Lyles became the Rockies white flag. It wasn’t his fault, in the end, that he kept getting run out there. Jordan was simply a pitcher trying his best to do his job in the face of a game that has assuredly passed him by. The fans recognized this as anger towards Jordan quickly turned into anger towards a front office seemingly forcing themselves to keep him in the face of everything.

When he was finally released, there wasn’t a celebration. No one hated Jordan, they just hated the situation. When it was over, it was over.

Now, Lyles joins the ranks of pitchers we’ll yearn to forget. He puts a face to a front office that ran out of tricks, and he’ll only be remembered in dumb jokes about other struggling pitchers or when we see him throwing six shutout innings in a random late April game.

The Rockies 2017 season had a lot of good memories and a lot to build on, Lyles was unable to share any of those, and that will define his year.

2018 Outlook

Likely a candidate for a minor league deal in the late winter, Lyles will spend 2018 in another organization.