Lance Lynn and the White Sox showed exactly how they felt about one another in July, when Lynn inked a two-year, $38 million contract extension.
Lynn was just months into his first season with the White Sox, but the right-hander told reporters, "There’s no point in me going into free agency if you know where you want to be."
Meanwhile, the White Sox had two starting pitchers named All-Stars in 2021, Lynn and Carlos Rodón, but this offseason the team let Rodón hit free agency without a qualifying offer.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Chicago sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
So, Lynn enters the 2022 season as the veteran leader of the starting rotation. The White Sox still could add to their pitching staff whenever the lockout ends. But for now, the rest of the rotation includes Lucas Giolito, a burgeoning ace; Dylan Cease, a young pitcher coming off a career year; Michael Kopech, who is transitioning from reliever to starter; and Dallas Keuchel, who struggled last year but has been in the league about as long as Lynn.
What’s next for Lynn after an All-Star 2021 season, his first since 2012?
The one thing that was missing was postseason performance.
Lynn had the best ERA of any American League starter at the All-Star break (1.99) and though he didn’t maintain it through the second half of the season, Lynn still finished with a career-best 2.69 ERA and came in No. 3 in AL Cy Young voting.
It’s easy to see why the White Sox wanted to extend Lynn’s time on the South Side.
“Lance is great,” White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal said after the regular season. “I remember being in spring training and being in a meeting with a bunch of the coaches and catchers, just kind of telling them it was nice to just catch a guy who didn't really think too much and he was attacking the strike zone.
“That's pretty much what he's done all year and it seems like that's what he's done his whole career. He's going to come at you, he's going to put pressure on you and you'd better be ready for him when he's on the mound.”
White Sox manager Tony La Russa named Lynn the Game 1 starter for the American League Division Series. But against an Astros team that had knocked Lynn around in the regular season as well, Lynn gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings.
“It wasn't good,” Lynn said after the game. “I wasn't making pitches when I needed to. I gave up some two-out runs on pitches that could have been better. When all is said and done, I just wasn't making the quality pitches I needed to. That's pretty much it.”
Some of Lynn’s ALDS struggles can be chalked up to a bad matchup. Plus, though he said before the game that “everything (felt) great,” Lynn was dealing with right knee inflammation late in the season. But a 5.28 career postseason ERA leaves room for improvement.
That being said, if Lynn can repeat his 2021 season in his second year with the White Sox, he gives them a good chance to enter the playoffs in a strong position.