Brewer Spotlight

Jordan Lyles: Saber Snapshot

On July 29th, 2019 it was announced that The Brewers traded RHP Cody Ponce (AA) to The Pirates for Jordan Lyles. While it was not the blockbuster that many fans had hoped for, it nets The Crew a servicable Major League Arm. It is a low risk move as The Brewers would have likely parted ways with Ponce at the end of the year.

In this Saber Snapshot, the aim is to highlight what Lyles will bring to the team. Per usual, it will be a graphic-packed affair that strives to dial in on the metrics that matter.


Lyles is a 28-year-old RHP who was drafted in the 8th round (2008) by The Astros after playing high school ball in South Carolina. His MLB Debut came in 2011 against the Cubs when he threw 7 innings, allowed five hits and two earned runs. He is currently on a one year contract that pays him $2.05M.


Jordan Lyles experienced career bests in the BOLD categories, all as a Brewer.

Over his career, Lyles has performed around MLB Average fairly consistently. While a career ERA above 5.00 is troubling, his FIP / xFIP have typically been lower. This suggests that he has been the “victim” of circumstance and/or bad defense.

It also should be stressed that Lyles has pitched better for The Brewers than for any other team. In addition to what the chart (above) highlights, he also had career bests in K/9 (12.1) and H/9 (6.6) while a Beer-Maker. Interestingly enough, he also experienced a career high in walks while in Milwaukee (5.0 BB/9).


Lyles is a “four-pitch guy” who also mixes in the occasional cutter/sinker.

  • Lyles has used the curveball increasingly more over the past four years.
    • It has risen from a 9.2% usage rate (2016) to 30.7% (2019)
    • As a result, the slider has been used much less
  • His most effective pitch has typically been the curveball
    • It has 12-6 action and elite vertical movement
    • He throws it with a knuckle-curve grip
  • Somewhat unexpectedly, he has seen a consistent rise in velocity over his career
    • His fastball generates a relatively high swing-and-miss rate (whiff%) which has spiked since he has begun throwing the curve more


Since Lyles decided to incorporate a higher percentage of curveballs in 2016, he has seen his strikeout profile go from below MLB Average to just above it. The adjustments in his repertoire have allowed him to miss more bats.

While Lyles has gotten better at sitting opponents down, he has not had the same success in limiting quality contact. Specifically, when opponents do hit him, it usually is hard. A reason for concern surfaces when we examine his STATCAST trends:

Also of note, he has been giving up more homers over the past three years. In 2019, he is allowing 1.75 HR/9 with a HR/FB rate of 18.2 (The MLB Average HR/FB is about 10.0%).


  • Lyles has pitched better in the reliever role than he has as a starter
  • This year he is enjoying the highest CLUTCH SCORE of his career
    • 2019: 0.91
    • Career: -0.57
  • Jordan is better when facing righties (Opp. OPS):
    • RHB: .766
    • LHB .832
  • Historically, he has pitched the best against these NL Teams:
    1. Arizona Diamondbacks
    2. Los Angeles Dodgers
    3. St. Louis Cardinals
    4. Pittsburgh Pirates
    5. Atlanta Braves
    6. Chicago Cubs


  • Over his career, Lyles has been a serviceable starter who is able to pitch in various roles
    • He has pitched better as a Brewer than with any other team
  • He is a four-pitch RHP who also sprinkles in cutters / sinkers
    • Over the last four years, he has used the curveball increasingly more at the expense of the slider. Since doing so, he has become a better “strikeout pitcher” but also gets hit harder.
    • Counterintuitively, his velocity has been gradually rising over the course of his career.
    • His fastball generates a lot of misses as a result of having a highly effective curveball.
  • Lyles is a savvy veteran who has pitched in both Leagues and has learned to refine his game over a decade. If he can build upon the success he had as a Brewer last year, he should effectively fill a much needed role… especially on The Crew’s thinned out pitching staff.