HOUSTON - APRIL 30: Pitcher Brandon Lyon #37 of the Houston Astros throws in the ninth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Minute Maid Park on April 30, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Astros Reliever Brandon Lyon To Have Bicep Surgery

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Brandon Lyon Injury: Bicep Surgery Confirmed, Reliever Out For Season

Brandon Lyon received a three-year, $15 million contract out of the Houston Astros prior to the 2010 season, and while that seemed to be a little pricey for a middle reliever, the Astros outfoxed us all by making him a closer. Pretty inexpensive for a closer, hmmm?

Lyon then pitched like Brandon Lyon, not striking a lot of hitters out and not giving up too many runs -- there's an argument that Brandon Lyon might be the most average reliever of all-time. Though he had an awful first game of the season, he settled down to do more Brandon Lyon things before he went on the disabled list with shoulder weakness. Though he rested most of May, things got even worse when he returned, as he pitched three innings and gave up eight earned runs.

Turns out he was hurt. Really hurt. He was actively avoiding using his right arm around the house, and he was fighting through a rotator cuff tear in addition to upper arm pain. And now he'll see Dr. James Andrews for a unique procedure to put Lyon's biceps tendon back in its groove. In other news, Brandon Lyon should totally nickname his tendon "Stella."

The surgery will knock Lyon out for the year, and Mark Melancon will continue on as the Astros' closer.


Brandon Lyon Injury: Astros Pitcher May Need Season-Ending Surgery

Houston Astros righthanded reliever Brandon Lyon came off the DL on June 9, but has not been very successful since his return; in three appearances covering two innings he’s allowed eight earned runs for a 36.00 ERA. He’s walked a pair and given up three home runs in that time.

The Houston Chronicle reports this morning that Lyon is still feeling pain when he pitches and may require surgery, which noted Dr. Lewis Yocum said, after seeing Lyon on Friday, would be “unusual”:

Yocum, the Los Angeles Angels’ medical director, echoed the opinion of Astros counterpart Dr. David Lintner — namely that Lyon’s biceps tendon is out of its groove and the condition likely will not improve through rest, rehabilitation or medication. That leaves season-ending surgery, but there’s an attention-getting complication to Lyon: The doctors could not cite one major league pitcher who has had such a procedure.

The 31-year-old Lyon himself admits that surgery may be necessary:

The problems, Lyon said, have persisted for about a year and a half. He has reached the point where he subconsciously does things lefthanded that he normally would have done righthanded to avoid pain.

In the meantime, Mark Melancon will remain the Astros closer for the rest of 2011.


Brandon Lyon Going On DL With Tendinitis, Torn Rotator Cuff

Brandon Lyons’ “shoulder weakness”? It was more than just a little weakness. The news from MLB.com’s :

Brandon Lyon going on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis and a partial tear of his rotator cuff. Jose Valdez recalled.

In this space yesterday, I suggested that Lyons’ struggles were merely due to him being less than a stellar pitcher. Well, that’s still true. But sometimes when a pitcher struggles as badly was Lyons has this season, there’s a better explanation than poor skills and/or poor luck. Sometimes they’re just plumb hurt. Which does make you wonder why the manager is always the last to know.

In Lyons’ absence, Mark Melancon has been handed the closer’s job. Twenty-eight-year-old rookie Jose Valdez was up earlier this season and gave up five runs in five innings. The longtime Yankees farmhand has posted decent numbers in the minors as a reliever, but doesn’t figure to pitch many big innings for the Astros.


Mark Melancon Is Astros' New Closer

Speculation about Brandon Lyons’ replacement as Houston’s closer didn’t last long. From Astros Senior Director of Social Media Alyson Footer:

“We’re going to give the ninth inning to Melancon and go from there.” Mills.

Well, at least the manager is keeping his options open.

Seriously, isn’t this how Brad Mills got into trouble in the first place? Just handing the most important job in the bullpen to a single pitcher who maybe could use a little help from time to time? Is managing really so difficult that you have to designate your ninth-inning guy less than 24 hours after firing the last one?

Anyway, Mark Melancon is 26 and has saved exactly zero games as a major leaguer while pitching 53 innings, which isn’t to suggest he can’t do the job. And considering how poorly most of the Astros’ other relievers have performed this season, Melancon looks like the only real candidate.


Brandon Lyon Investigating Shoulder Weakness

Everyone assumed that Brandon Lyon was blowing saves by the carton because he was Brandon Lyon -- competent and perfectly decent middle reliever, but no one's idea of a dominant closer. Turns out, though, there might be something more sinister at work. From Alyson Footer:

Brandon Lyon is flying to Houston today to be looked at by Dr. Lintner for shoulder weakness.

Lyon's blown save on Wednesday was his fourth of the 2011 season, the same number that cost Ryan Franklin and Jonathan Broxton their jobs. Per the PITCH f/x numbers at FanGraphs, Lyon's velocity has been noticeably down this year, and a fatigued shoulder -- or worse -- would go a long way towards explaining his ineffectiveness. Lyon has thrown 11-1/3 innings this season, giving up 21 hits and three walks and striking out five.

The Astros don't have an obvious candidate to replace Lyon in the closer's role, though Rotoworld is speculating that Mark Melancon might be the pitcher who has first dibs at filling in.

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