Jordan Lyles is a 6-4, 215-pound righthander who can throw four pitches for strikes.

The 22-year-old is in his third season in the majors – a young starter on a rebuilding club desperately seeking long-term answers. He possesses a fastball that hits 95 mph, an improving curveball, a changeup that’s a perfect foil for his two-seamer, and an increasingly nasty slider that’s evolved from a quasi-cutter into a true strikeout pitch.

The only problem for Lyles – who has the best raw stuff of any of the Astros’ five starters – is his location is often too good. When he misses, he misses over the plate, which creates instant bat cracks in MLB.

“Location, location, location – it’s all location. When he’s good, he paints everything. … The problem with him is, he doesn’t know how to throw balls. He’s just such a good pitcher around the plate,” said Carlos Corporan, who regularly caught Lyles last September, when he posted a 3.58 ERA in five starts, striking out 23 and walking just nine in 272⁄3 innings.

Battle with Butler

Lyles indulged in a little bad Wednesday in the Astros’ 3-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros held a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning. But Lyles faced runners on first and third with two outs and Royals cleanup hitter Billy Butler at the plate.

Lyles quickly took Butler to 1-2, relying on two four-seamers and a slider to offset a slugger who smacked 29 homers and 107 RBIs in 2012 and entered Wednesday hitting .274 with 30 RBIs and an .809 OPS.

A slider in the dirt followed. Then six consecutive fouls. On his 11th pitch, Lyles unleashed a perfect one: an 85-mph slider that started away from the righthanded Butler, trailed in, then dove into the dirt at the last moment. Butler flailed. Lyles had his hard-fought third out.

“It was 11 (pitches)? It felt like 33,” Lyles said. “I only threw two pitches to him that at-bat: fastballs in and sliders down.”

A young pitcher who failed to make the Astros’ rotation out of spring training showed the arm, talent and brain that presumably had made him a lock for the club’s No. 3 spot all season.

“When he gets more mature, he’s going to be the best,” Corporan said. “He’s going to be our ace in the future.”