Ed Wade signed Brandon Lyon after the 2009 season, hoping to shore up the Astros bullpen for years to come. Wade gave the 30-year-old relief pitcher $15 million over three years, and the terms were questioned as soon as Mr. Lyon inked his name.
It was simply a lot of money for an aging relief pitcher without overwhelming stuff. It was simply a lot of money for a relief pitcher who had closed just twice in his career.
Such an investment has since, well, flopped to say the least. Lyon is currently amidst a nightmare of a season, and you can't help but feel bad for the guy. But then you realize we're paying him stupid money. Heck, if the Astros want a bad, unreliable pitcher, they can email me. And I won't cost $5 M a year.
Lyon's blown four of his eight save opportunities this year. And he's lucky he's given up just four. He's been lit up for 21 hits in just 11 innings of work, and he's allowed 9 runs in that span. That's almost a run every outing. And with his most recent implosion (one walk, four hits, and three runs without recording an out), his ERA rose from 4.76 to 7.15. I don't know if he's playing through an injury, if he's tipping his pitches, or if he just isn't cut out to be a closer.
Maybe his numbers wouldn't be as gaudy if Mills didn't leave him in. Or maybe his numbers wouldn't be as ugly if the Astros had some quality arms to turn to.
Astros fans have been calling for Lyon's head for a while now, but a replacement at closer isn't that easy. The Astros bullpen has been terrible, with only Jeff Fulchino and Mark Melancon having respectable years thus far. Six of the Astros eight relievers have ERA's above 5.40. Three of them have negative WAR rankings, meaning we'd be better without them. And Figueroa's WAR is 0, so that's another expendable piece. The Astros bullpen as a whole is allowing an ugly 1.65 walks and hits per innings pitched.
So it's no wonder the Astros are 12-18. If it weren't for Lyon, they'd be 14-16. And perhaps if we had a decent bullpen, we'd be a winning team.