Tyler Lyons joined the Yankees roster in September and the southpaw reliever pitched well enough to earn a spot on the pitching-heavy postseason roster.
The Yankees actually drafted him in 2009 but he remained at Oklahoma State and went to the Cardinals the following year. He pitched for the Cardinals from 2013 through 2018. He struggled in 2018, putting up an 8.64 ERA in 27 appearances.
Lyons signed with the Pirates but was released in August after spending most of the summer in Triple-A. He joined the Yankees and became a reliable option out of the bullpen. He spoke to NY Sports Day after Game 5 of the ALCS.
NYSD: What’s this whole ride been like for you?
TL: It’s been awesome. I mean any time that you have an opportunity to play in the playoffs it’s a special deal. I think my first couple of years in the big leagues with the Cardinals they made the playoffs, and you kind of just think, ‘Oh, that’s just what happens.’ And then you go a long time without doing it and I think you have a bigger appreciation for how hard it is to get here and then obviously to have success here. And so, just try to take it all in and enjoy the ride because you learn real quick how hard it is to be a part of this.
NYSD: How’s this compared to some of those St. Louis teams?
TL: Especially at this point, I mean obviously, you’ve got a special team to get to this point with, I was going to say four but I guess three teams are left now. You’ve done a lot of things right through the year and you put together a good team and you have all the pieces and now it’s just about trying to win games and that’s kind of what they did and that’s what we’re doing here.
NYSD: What changed for you this year when you came over here?
TL: Not a whole lot, I don’t think. I think this year for me was rejuvenating, I guess. Last year I dealt with a lot of injury stuff, my stuff wasn’t as good and there’s times where you’re like, ‘Maybe that’s all I had in the tank and that’s the end of it.’ To get back in and enjoy some success and actually see that I had the stuff to be successful was rejuvenating, like I said, just because I saw that and I knew that I could have success at the highest level whereas last year was like, ‘Hey, if that’s all you got, maybe that’s it because that’s not good enough.’ As a whole, this year’s just been rejuvenating. And then just getting here it kind of kept that going I think because I went from playing in Triple-A on a team that definitely was not going to the playoffs to, now here we are.
NYSD: What was it like being a starter for all those years and then converting to reliever? Because you seem to have found kind of a niche.
TL: Yeah. For the longest time I was a starter. I think I just ran out of options and there wasn’t a need for a starter and I moved to the bullpen and I learned the art of that and got comfortable doing that. It’s kind of kept me around a little bit, I guess.
NYSD: Did it come to you easy?
TL: I think there’s always things you can learn from that but as a whole I don’t think the transition was too bad. I mean, if anything, I learned a lot from going to the bullpen just as far as being able to slow the game down one batter at a time, all the cliche things that come with it.
NYSD: Does anything prepare you for this crowd and these fans?
TL: I don’t think you can play in too many of these games where you don’t notice it or it’s not exciting. You play in lots of games with loud crowds but when you get to the playoffs and everything’s on the line it’s why you play. It’s the exciting part and it’s why we all play and it’s great.