You are not going to find his name on many American League pitching stat leaders – although he has given up about as many hits as anyone in the AL this year – yet right-hander Jordan Lyles has meant a ton to the Orioles this year. Just ask his teammates and those he has mentored this year in the Baltimore starting rotation.
A starting rotation with a lot of youthful potential that is starting to show their stuff with his support and leadership along the way.
Lyles is 11-11 with a 4.50 ERA heading into tonight’s start in Boston. But stats and being a so-called “innings eater” don’t begin to tell the full story of his impact on the 2022 Orioles.
“He is invaluable in so many ways,” right-hander Tyler Wells said Sunday. “You can’t really put a price on what he has done for us as a starting staff, as a team, and as a mentor for a lot of us. He really teaches us what it’s like to be a starter and how he has made a 10-year career into what he has. All based on certain principles – like going deep into games and giving your team a chance to win every single time.
“As us young guys continue to develop, our mindsets, our development and pitching strategies we are getting are based off of learning from a guy that has had a very successful career.”
His rotation mates and pitchers on the staff describe Lyles as a quiet leader. He is not likely to impose any thoughts on anyone. But reach out to him for help, and you will get that and more.
“We all have our own individual relationships with him and like for myself there are things I talk to him a lot about,” added Wells. “I talk to him about pitching strategy and talk to him about what is his mindset on certain things? Dean (Kremer) or (Kyle) Bradish or (Mike) Baumann, they may have different questions. But as a whole, he also leads by example on the field. Just look at how many innings he’s thrown. It’s been great to see him continue to do exactly as he tells us he is trying to do.”
This past week the Orioles got three straight starts of 8 2/3 innings or more – from Lyles, who pitched a complete-game three-hitter Wednesday on 94 pitches against Detroit. Also on Thursday, from Bradish who allowed two hits and no runs over 8 2/3 against Houston and then next Kremer pitched a four-hit shutout over the Astros on 106 pitches. It was the first time since Sept, 26-29, 1995 that three straight O’s starters went that deep into a game consecutively. Then it was Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson, and Kevin Brown.
“I know when we got on this three-game run of great starting pitching, it was Jordan that led the way,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “And Jordan kind of showing these guys how to finish a game. He’s just been a great influence on them and I think it’s very, very helpful to have veteran leadership around young players.”
Over his last 11 starts, Bradish is 3-3 with a 2.67 ERA.
“He’s the leader on our pitching staff,” Bradish said of Lyles. “Someone you can go to with any question you have. He has seen it all being in the big leagues so long. It’s a comfort zone for us. If we have any question, we can ask him.
“He’s kind of quiet at first, but so am I. Once we started getting comfortable up here, we chatted it up in the dugout and he helped me in a lot of ways. Everything from watching him on the mound to being in the clubhouse to see how he goes about his days.”
On Father’s Day in June the young bucks in the O’s rotation had an idea. They had t-shirts made that read “Best Dad ever” to show Lyles how they felt about his guidance and mentorship. They gave him one that read “No. 1 dad.”
“It was a joke and everything but it was also a cool way to let him know we look up to him,” said Bradish.
Added reliever Bryan Baker: “He’s a calming presence. Been around longer than maybe most of us combined and he is an awesome resource to pick his brain and call on some of that experience that he has. And just follow his lead. The way he shows up every day to work and puts in the work it’s fun to see. A lot of the younger guys follow him as the way to go about their business.
“I think we will all look back years from now and realize what he has meant to us. Really important to our team this year. That complete game the other day. He had been sick, missed a start, which never happens, comes back two starts later and goes nine. Shows what a pro he is. That one sticks out to me."
Wells said that was big for the younger pitchers to see and then Bradish and Kremer immediately followed his lead.
"Like in that span of three starts, he started that," said Wells. "He was the example, he was the one to set the standard. And he was the one that set the standard for all of us to chase all year long."