Well, if the Milwaukee Brewers are still looking to pursue that “veteran arm” that Doug Melvin still desires, Kyle Lohse could be that guy. However, cost and years would more than likely make a deal fall through, but let’s say hypothetically it were to work out. How would the rotation look? Could Lohse perform in 2013 like he did in 2012? How would he fare against his old team?
All these and more are questions that the Brewers will clearly face if talks become any more serious.
The Brewers had been somewhat interested in Lohse, but with him being a type-A free-agent, the team would have to give up a draft pick. Honestly, this is not worth signing Lohse, a 34 year-old veteran if it means our picks for the future become far and few. Then again, having a somewhat successful veteran presence whose had NL Central exposure isn’t easy to come by.
Placing him in the Brewers’ rotation might see him sitting at the two spot and no lower. Lohse, who I don’t want to say had a fluke 2012, still doesn’t blow me away as a pitcher. Looking at his 12-year tenure though, Lohse has only ever had his ERA below 4.00 three times and two of those came in the past two seasons (3.39 in 2011, 2.86 in 2012). Call me crazy, but maybe he’s getting stronger as he ages or he’s finally been able to figure out hitters.
Our own Colin Bennett touched on the subject before, and I have to say I agree with him for the most part. Giving up a first round pick for an aged veteran really makes no sense, unless that veteran was per say, Randy Johnson. However that said, clearly there’s a reason why owner Mark Attanasio hasn’t put the Lohse rumors to bed.
Breaking down Lohse’s 16-win 2012, we’ll see he posted a career-low ERA of 2.86, 211 innings pitched (also the most of his career), held batters to a .239/.274/.368 slash line and had an increased K/9 ratio from 2011 (5.30 to 6.10). Surely that’s an incredible season for any pitcher, but was the magic just there for one year? It’s hard to tell considering how well his 2011 went. I’d say sure, if Lohse didn’t pitch well in 2011 that 2012 was a fluke, but clearly it wasn’t.
Looking at his outs in particular, Lohse struck out 143 batters, which translates into 16.6% of his outs. In 2011, he struck out 111 batters and strikeouts accumulated for 14.3% of his outs. His reliance on the ground ball has also gone down steadily from his career high in 2008 of 45.8% as it was 40.5% in 2012. Since Miller Park is a hitter friendly park, most notably for homers as it ranked first out all 30 stadiums in 2012, the fact that Lohse can still get at least 40% of his out via the ground remains to be a positive notion.
The one thing to keep in mind about Lohse are his struggles in Miller Park. A career 2-3 pitcher at the park, Lohse has also an ugly 6.95 ERA tagged along with his losing record. Now, of course that’s all inside of 44 innings pitched, but still, that’s a bit troublesome. For a pitcher that would cost a draft pick and somewhere in the ball park of $11 million or more, we’d have to make sure he could pitch inside our own park efficiently.
Sticking Lohse in the rotation would clear up some, but not all of the mess. Yovani Gallardo would still be the number one, Marco Estrada would follow Lohse as the three and the final two spots would still be fought between. Of course though, I couldn’t imagine Lohse being in this rotation for more than two-years, as indicated by Doug Melvin and his refusals to hand out three-year contracts to players, more specifically pitchers.
Is Lohse a priority right now? Absolutely not, but he would make a great addition for this club at the right price. To get to that right price though, the sacrifice of a first round pick is in order, and honestly, that’s something the Brewers should avoid unless they feel comfortable with the farm right now. Lohse could make a difference in an uncertain rotation, so perhaps Brewer fans should keep their eyes and ears open on this news.