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Report: Brewers’ Kyle Lohse Needs “Change of Scenery”

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The Milwaukee Brewers suffered yet another defeat today, further pushing them back from relevancy in the National League. At just 13-25, this is the second fastest the team has reached 25 losses on a season in franchise history. 12 games back in the NL Central and eight games back of the second Wild Card spot, the Brewers have already established themselves as sellers for this season. A rebuild is coming, the only question is just how deep the tear down will be.

Earlier today, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe touched on the Brewers impending sell-off in his weekly column. Cafardo lists veteran starting pitchers Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza as two players who could be “had immediately,” as the Brewers are ready to begin making moves with the future in mind. Interestingly, the consensus among scouts seems to be that Lohse is in need of simply a “change of scenery” in order to get back to the pitcher he who put up 5.8 WAR for the Brewers from 2013-14.

Could Lohse, a veteran leader in the Brewers’ clubhouse, be dismayed with the way former manager Ron Roenicke was dismissed earlier this season? Perhaps Lohse, 36 and in the final year of his contract, would rather chase one last shot at a title than have to endure a listless season in Milwaukee.

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Kyle has had some rather unsightly results this season, putting up a 5.85 ERA in his first 47.2 innings pitched in 2015, giving up 10 home runs. Lohse’s HR/FB ratio of 16.4% is the highest of his career, however, and he has maintained a healthy 3.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Lohse, in fact, is currently striking out batters at a higher rate (19%) than any season of his career, and he’s maintained an average fastball velocity a tick above 89 mph in each season since 2010. His xFIP of 4.12 paints a much brighter picture of his performance this far, and his SIERA of 4.01 predicts much steadier work going forward this season.

If the belief around the league is that Lohse hasn’t lost his “stuff” and is simply in need of a change of scenery, the chances are much better that the Brewers could get a solid return for the righty. He was dominant in his last start, giving up just two hits and one walk in eight innings, holding the Mets scoreless and striking out eight batters. While some are quick to point to last year’s Jake Peavy trade as a comparison for Lohse, I would think that Milwaukee would be happy to get a pair of 45 grade prospects given Kyle’s age and contract status (final year at $11 mil). A team like the Dodgers, who have dealt with plenty of injuries to their pitching staff already this season, could be interested.

More difficult to move will likely be Matt Garza, who is still owed $12.5 mil a season through 2017 (with a vesting option). Similar to Lohse, the Count’s results look rather unfortunate this year: a 5.72 ERA in 45.2 innings with eight home runs given up. Much of that damage came in Garza’s last start, however, when he gave up 10 runs in just 3.1 innings pitched. Prior to that, however, Garza had a string of four straight quality starts, and hasn’t lost any velocity on his fastball. Garza’s 20.5% HR/FB ratio should come back down to earth, and xFIP rates Garza closer over a run lower than his ERA at 4.34. It’s likely that Garza will need to string together some more solid starts before he becomes a viable trade candidate, and even then, the Brewers will probably have to eat some of his contract in order to get a decent prospect in return.

Luis Sardinas (who came to Milwaukee this winter via trade) has looked strong in his brief Brewers debut, as well, collecting three hits through his first six plate appearances while starting the last two games at shortstop in place of Jean Segura. Sardinas’ ability in the field has long been highly touted, though questions have surrounded the 22 year old’s bat since his .616 OPS for the Rangers in his debut season last year. If Sardinas can prove he can handle himself at the plate while Segura is on the shelf mending his broken pinky, it would make it much more likely that the Brewers would move the 25 year old Segura, who will be arbitration eligible for the first time after this season. Segura is highly regarded around the league, and could help a team like the Mets, who have a need at shortstop and a farm system full of stellar pitching prospects.

For the National League worst Milwaukee Brewers, the writing is on the wall. While we may not have much exciting baseball to look forward to this summer, we can at least look forward to what figures to be a flurry of trade rumors surrounding this team. Hopefully the Brewers can make some moves and begin to invigorate their rising farm system, and generate some excitement around the state for the future of the team.

Next: Week 6 NL Central Power Rankings

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