Just by looking at Astros pitcher Jordan Lyles' stats, one would think he is about the same pitcher that went 2-8 with a 5.36 ERA in 2012. After all, his numbers don't look that much different. He is 0-1 with a 5.04 ERA. His batting average against is .271 compared to .280 in 2011. Like 2011, he has given up more hits than innings pitched.
But you have to have been watching Lyles to see that the 21-year-old is much more advanced as a pitcher than he was a season ago.
There is one stat that may give an indication. He is getting hitters to put the ball on the ground far more than last season. He averages 1.43 ground ball outs to every fly ball out. That compares to only a 1.19 in 2011. Some of those ground balls have snuck through for base hits of course. But fly balls can often turn into home runs, something grounders can't.
Lyles will never be a blow 'em away pitcher. His fast ball can't really reach 95 miles per hour unless the wind is blowing very hard from center field. But t...