Some background on Kyle Lohse
Kyle Lohse was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 29th round of the 1996 draft out of high school. He did not immediately sign, and instead attended Butte College. There is no record anywhere that I could find, so not sure if he actually pitched or not for them, but eventually signed in May 1997 and began his career in rookie ball that year. After spending a little more than 2 years in the Cubs system, he was traded along with Jason Ryan to the Twins for Rick Aguilera and Scott Downs. At the time of the trade (May 22, 1999), the Twins were already 15 1/2 games back in the AL Central, so it didn't make sense to keep Aguilera, their 36 year old career saves leader. The Cubs wanted Aguilera to fill the role of the injured Rod Beck and were 22-17 only 2 1/2 games back in the NL Central. Suffice to say, the trade didn't matter for the Cubs as they went 45-78 the rest of the year and finished 30 games back of the Houston Astros.
Lohse spent the next 2 years working himself through the system and debuted in 2001 for the Twins and has been what most people would consider an innings eater. Most of Lohse's value comes from his durability as he's thrown 170-200 innings in 7 of the 10 seasons he's been a full time starter and this year will make it 8 of 11 seasons.
Lohse does not have overpowering stuff, but has had somewhat success due to having a repertoire of 5 pitches. According to Brooks Baseball, Lohse works primarily off his 90mph sinker (47%) with a mid 80's slider (23%) and a low 80's changeup (18%). Lohse will also throw an occasional 90mph 4 seamer (7%) and a mid 70's curveball (5%). He does not have a knockout, swing and miss pitch, and it shows in his low strikeout rate (5.59 K/9).
I always felt that Lohse was underrated when he was with the Twins because the casual fans would see his win/loss record and ERA and think he was not much of a pitcher. I've always saw him as a solid backend rotation pitcher, which definitely has value. According to Fangraphs, he was pretty much a 2.0-2.5 WAR pitcher from 2002-2008.
Towards the end of the 2008 season, the Cardinals gave him a 4year/$41mil (he was on a 1 year/$4.25mil deal). He is definitely not the the type of pitcher you want your favorite team to commit $41mil to, but he probably got the deal in part due to his 15-6 record and 3.78 ERA. He performed poorly over the 1st 2 years of his deal, but it could have been partly as a result of a rare forearm condition he had to have surgery for. However, he's improved as a pitcher the past 2 years. He's still has a low strike out rate, but he's also improved his walk rate dramatically (2.8 career vs 1.9 2011/2012).
Kyle Lohse faced the Dbacks at Chase Field back on May 9th. Lohse pitched 5 innings only giving up 1 run and getting the win. On the surface, it looks like Lohse pitched a solid game. However, when you dig deep into what happened during the game, Lohse was probably lucky to only give up 1 run. He gave up 7 hits, walked 1, and struck out only 3 batters. Usually that will equate to more than 1 run given up. During the game, the following occurred:
2nd inning - the inning started with 2 weak outs, then 3 line drive singles to deep left/center, deep left/center, and deep center and only scored 1 run out of it.
4th inning - the inning started with 2 deep flyball outs, then a double by Overbay, and a single to centerfield by Roberts, but no runs scored as Overbay got thrown out at home.
5th inning - the inning started with another flyball out, then a double and walk, but inning ended with a groundball double play hit by Upton.
Lohse was replaced in the top of the 6th inning for a pinch hitter as the game was tied and there were runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 outs for the Cardinals. It was a good move by the Cardinals as the pinch hitter hit a double, scoring 2 runs and giving the Cardinals a 3-1 lead. I wonder, tho, if Lohse wasn't getting hit so hard, if the Cardinals would have just kept him in the game to hit.
I believe that if Lohse pitches similar today to what he did back in May, the Dbacks should have success. Hopefully, success at the plate will result in more than the 2 runs they've scored each game to avoid the sweep.
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