PITTSBURGH -- After learning of the Pirates' decision to pitch veteran A.J. Burnett in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader, the Cardinals opted to flip-flop their own starting pitching plans. Wanting his "experienced pitcher lining up with theirs," manager Mike Matheny announced that Lance Lynn will oppose Burnett in Game 1, leaving the Game 2 assignment to rookie left-hander Tyler Lyons.
Lyons joined the Cardinals on Monday and will be added to the roster for just one day. The implementation of the "26th-man rule" allows for teams to put an extra player on the active roster for a doubleheader scheduled at least 48 hours in advance. That allowed the Cardinals to pluck a starter from the Memphis rotation.
Lyons returns to the Majors after an exceptionally successful six-start stint in Triple-A. After allowing four or more runs in his last four Major League starts before his June demotion, he went to Memphis with a to-do list.
"Mostly, I just wanted to go down there and figure some stuff out," Lyons said on Monday. "I wanted to improve my fastball command and really pitch off of that, establish that. That was a big thing for me. Then there were other small things, like controlling the run game, slowing the game down when things were going sideways a little bit.
"That was stuff that I learned while I was up here and stuff that has been problems throughout my entire career. It was stuff that once I got up here and saw it happen here, I was conscious of it and wanted to work on it when I went down."
With that as his focus, Lyons thrived. He allowed only six earned runs and 16 hits in 40 2/3 innings, while walking eight and striking out 37. Opponents hit .118 off him.
Lyons arrived in Pittsburgh knowing his stay will be short, but also aware that an impression left on Tuesday could create opportunity later.
"It's one game, but I just want to take advantage of any opportunity I get to pitch in a big league game," he said. "It's obviously a tight divisional race, and that's something that you follow on TV as a baseball fan. It makes it that much more exciting to be a part of it."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less