Though Lyon is returning to the club, Houston is not going run 31 year old out as their closer immediately. Manager Brad Mills shared the club’s thoughts with reporters.
“We’ll kind of ease him into it before we put him absolutely all the way in to be the closer,” Mills said. “His experience and what he’s done in the past, we definitely want him to be that guy. We’re going to let him get a few innings under his belt and ease him into that spot.”
A reason the club feels comfortable easing Lyon back into the role is Mark Melancon.
Melancon has been the Astros interim closer while Lyon’s been on the disabled list and the 26 year old has performed well. He’s maintained a 1.78 ERA with a WHIP of 1.12 on the year, while converting 6 of his 8 save opportunities.
However, no matter how productive Melancon continues to be, it seems pretty inevitable Lyon will eventually takeover as the Astros closer. While Mills speaks of Lyon’s experience and past success, the main reason he will be reinserted into the role is his hefty contract.
Lyon signed a 3 year $15 million deal with the Stros before the 2010 season. He’s making $5.25 million this season and then another $5.5 mil in 2012.
His current 7.15 ERA and 4 blown saves in 8 opportunities may not look like closer numbers, but in order to get value out of their investment the Astros will have to have Lyon finishing games for them.