By Matt Snyder
Brandon Lyon has blown four saves in only eight chances this season and now he's flown back to Houston from a road trip to have his shoulder examined. Earlier Thursday, he's said to have weakness in his throwing shoulder. (Ultimate Astros ) An examination of Lyon's shoulder -- including an MRI -- revealed that he has both biceps tendinitis and a partially torn rotator cuff. The tear will be rehabbed without surgery, but has landed Lyon on the 15-day disabled list. (Alyson Footer via Twitter)
The closer issue is definitely something the Astros need to fix as soon as possible. While the team isn't strong by any measure -- in fact, it's terrible by many measures -- the Astros entered Thursday only 4 1/2 games out in the NL Central, which looks to be the most winnable division in baseball to this point. Had Lyon closed down every save chance, the Astros would have been 16-14. Entering Thursday, the Cardinals led the Central with a 17-14 record.
Lyon, 31, has a 7.15 ERA and 2.12 WHIP in 11 1/3 innings. He's given up 21 hits in that time, which is an alarming rate for any pitcher, much less the supposed anchor of the bullpen. He saved 20 games last season with a 3.12 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.
If Lyon misses a significant amount of time, the closer will be Mark Melancon (MLB.com via Twitter). Melancon has appeared in an MLB-high 18 games this season, working 15 2/3 innings. He's currently got a 1.72 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 12 strikeouts against six walks. He has zero career saves.