It is the appropriate time in spring where the stats should start to be somewhat meaningful. Or at least the performances can be judged with some credibility. Some cuts have been made and players are honing in on timing or their arms are warming to pitching routinely. This is what I have seen from Lyles and my judgment of what he should do this year.
Lyles looked good in the game vs the Orioles today. He had 2IP 3K no hits or walks. An outstanding stat line and something to be excited about. He faced some real hitters and made Vlad and some others look quite foolish. The O's announcers were very complimentary and really played him up for his talent and age. I don't believe they knew much about him, but why would they? There are so many guys in the spring it would be foolish work. So what made his performance so good?
Lyles was working with a 2-FB at 87-91 with avg about 89.25. It is more of a runner than getting depth which is not as good but still good run. A good sign is that he was picking up velocity as he went along. In fact I thought his 2nd inning was as good as I have seen him in general. He also was working a good change. It is a K pitch for him when he is throwing well like today. There were several bad swings on it today and he didn't ground it many times which tells me he has a good feel for it and can control it enough. The speed difference was good at 9-10mph. These two pitches are what got him where he is. But the other pitches are what will get him all the way.
He also featured a CB and a SL or cutter. These pitches are not ML ready or even ML avg as I have heard, but never seen before. The issues with each are fixable. I think his SL has more hope because the problem is simple. His slider needs to get on a lower plain. He spun a few up that I think JD calls, "the old cement mixer slider." The other ones were still up so they got no depth. The upside for this pitch is a small slider that only drops 5mph with a very similar arm action. He must develop this pitch to keep RHBs honest. The CB is very avg as he throws it but he lacks all feel for it and his arm action slows to telegraph it. This is very hard to fix IMO. If he somehow did it would also keep RHB honest.
So all this means that I see a good future for Lyles. He is 20 so I am not sure his velocity is set yet and I totally disagree that his motion is full-effort as his detractors argue. He needs to develop a breaking ball. I would give Lyles all year to work on it in AAA this year. His deception and good CH could play in a bulpen but if he adds the SL low in the zone(and becomes MLavg) and has a get over CB he throws 2-4 times a game I see no reason his career won't be pretty good.
I got pretty excited about Lyles' performance and I see him helping the Astros with quality performances for years.