Former Pirates starter Jordan Lyles makes return to PNC Park with Brewers
On the scale of former Pittsburgh Pirates making an emotional return to PNC Park, the standing ovations Andrew McCutchen received when he came back with the San Francisco Giants last May sit at one end of the spectrum.
Adeiny Hechavarria lining out to left field as a seventh-inning pinch hitter for the New York Mets last Friday night sits at the other.
Jordan Lyles returning to start for the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night is a lot closer to the Hechavarria standard than the McCutchen moment, of course, but it’s a notable juncture in the Pirates season all the same.
It closes the book on the 28-year-old right-hander who signed with the Pirates in December as perhaps the club’s most high-profile free-agent addition of the offseason. He won the fifth starter’s job in spring training and pitched very well until the wheels fell off in the middle of May.
The Lyles era with the Pirates ended last Monday when the team sent him to the Brewers for relief pitching prospect Cody Ponce.
“Did he do enough work here to lock down a rotation spot for us next year? I don’t think, in our minds, he did,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We gave it a shot. He provided us with some good starts. … Did he pour everything he had into it? Absolutely. He was a great teammate, a good man to have on the club.
“His work ethic, you could set the clock by it. His focus and preparation, you could set the clock by it. He never made excuses when he didn’t do well. He posted up out there with (reporters) after every start, good, bad, indifferent, whatever. Those are all traits that are welcomed and appreciated in a clubhouse.”
Lyles was brilliant through May 17, going 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA, striking out 52 in 47.1 innings. He was awful after that, going 1-6 with a 9.57 ERA in his final nine starts with the Pirates.
In his first start with the Brewers last Wednesday, he allowed one earned run in five innings, leading the team to a 4-2 victory over Oakland.
“If he’s got his good stuff, he’s tough,” Hurdle said. “If he’s not locating the fastball, he gets underneath counts and you can push his pitch count up. If the breaking ball is sharp, it’s a hard one to hit.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .