Lyles given green light to let loose

Lyles given green light to let loose

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies are convincing right-handed reliever Jordan Lyles to be a little less civil.

Shifted to the bullpen last season, Lyles saw a bump in velocity and break on his pitches. It was evidence enough for Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster and bullpen coach Darren Holmes to believe that short bursts would be better for him. The next step is for Lyles to adopt a reliever's aggressiveness.

So far, results are encouraging. Lyles has a 7.04 Spring Training ERA, but has had five scoreless games in seven outings. Most of the damage occurred Feb. 28 in a five-run inning against the Dodgers. Friday night against the Giants, Lyles struck out two and gave up one hit in two innings -- his second multi-inning assignment.

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"Conviction is probably the most important thing," Lyles said. "You won't be as wrong as often with conviction. That's what I've learned over this past year. Conviction sometimes is better than location."

Lyles, 26, joined the Rockies before 2014 in a trade with the Astros, and had two season interrupted by injuries before struggling as a starter last season (1-2, 8.55 ERA in five starts). The bullpen performances were mixed (3-3, 4.42 in 35 games), but there was enough to encourage the Rockies to sign him to a one-year, $3.18 million deal in his final year of arbitration eligibility.

It gave the Rockies more time to develop the beast within Lyles.

"Jordan at times can be a little reserved, so letting him get after it a little bit in short spurts is something he may benefit from -- benefit and prosper," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "So that's the mindset we're trying to bring to him. He's been on board."

As a starter, Lyles pitched to various locations. He succeeded at times, but at other times he had trouble controlling movement. Now his delivery is quicker, and his thought process is less pinpoint.

"My sinker tends to run a little much, so the catchers and I decided to put them more on the plate, and all the action take place over the plate, and not run off of it," Lyles said. "To me, it's just attacking the bottom half of the zone. I've gotten away from trying to hit sides, but living in the bottom of the zone -- not third sideways, but thirds up and down.

"For me, just being more aggressive -- turning the volume up a little bit, so to speak."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.