The Kyle Lohse Alternative

Pitching, pitching, pitching, oh where for art thou starting pitching?! The Dodgers are looking to upgrade their rotation this winter, and GM Ned Colletti is starting his holiday shopping. The Dodgers have been looking at James Shields, but Tampa Bay has already picked up his option. So unless the Dodgers want to work out a trade with the Rays, Shields won’t be wearing Dodger Blue next season. More than likely the Dodgers will have to bring in another pitcher via free agency. The market this winter is flush with solid options. Angry bird man Zack Greinke is the crown jewel of the free agent pool, but other solid options include former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda,former trade target Ryan Dempster, and Anibal Sanchez. Today however we will be discussing the possibility of the Dodgers signing Cardinal’s right hander Kyle Lohse.

Would Kyle Lohse be a good alternative for the Dodgers?-Dilip Vishwanat/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Lohse is 34 years old and a California native of Chico, but grew up in a northern California city of Ord bend. Lohse was a low round draft pick, (29th round of the 1996 draft) originally picked by the Cubs. The Cubs traded Lohse to the Twins for Rick Aguilera in a 1999 deal.

Lohse made his big league debut for Minnesota in 2001. Lohse’s  beginnings were somewhat up and down with the Twins. In his first full season as a big league starter, he posted a 13-8 record, a 4.23 ERA, and a 1.389 WHIP. He also had the first of his three 200+ inning seasons. The following season he followed up with a 14-11 record, 4.61 ERA, and 1.274 WHIP. The following year in 2004, he had one of his worst seasons. In both seasons of 2004-2005 he posted 9-13 records. In 2004, he posted a 5.13 ERA, allowing 240 hits, 28 home runs, and 128 earned runs. He posted a 1.627 WHIP, and a 1.423 WHIP in his 2005 season. Lohse continued to struggle in Minnesota in 2006, before he was traded to the Reds.

Lohse didn’t last long with Cincinnati, and by mid-season of 2007, he was again traded, this time to the Philadelphia Phillies. He started 11 games for the Phillies, posting a 3-0 record, a 4.72 ERA, and a 1.433 WHIP. In 2008, Lohse hit the free agent market for the first time, and he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for a one year 4.25 million dollar contract.

Lohse started out the 2008 season very well. He began the 2008 season going 11-2, with a 3.39 ERA. He finished the season with a 15-6 record, 3.78 ERA, and pitched 200 innings. He whiffed 119 and walked only 49 that year. He posted a WHIP of 1.300. Lohse had a down year in 2009, finishing with a 6-10 record, 4.74 ERA, and 1.368 WHIP. Lohse signed a four year 41 million dollar contract with the Cardinals at the end of the 2008 season. After only starting in 18 games in 2010, and posting a 6.55 ERA, Lohse began the 2011 season red hot. Lohse finished 2010 with a 14-8 record, and a 3.39 ERA. He pitched 188 innings that year, and had a 1.168 WHIP, which was at that time, the lowest of his career. He only allowed 16 home runs, walked 42, and whiffed 111. Lohse won his 100th career game in 2011. However he had his finest year in 2012.

This season, Lohse finished with a career best 16-3 record, a 2.86 ERA, and a 1.090 WHIP. Lohse pitched in 211 innings, walking 38, and whiffing 143. If you remember back on opening day, Lohse carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Marlins at Marlin’s Park. He recorded the first ever win at the new ballpark, against the home team.

Kyle Lohse went 16-3 and had career bests in ERA, and WHIP for the Cardinals in 2012, hits the free agent market this winter.-Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

When looking at Lohse’s numbers, it becomes clear, that he’s not a big strikeout pitcher. He’s a control guy. His 143 whiffs in 2012 were a career high, but he’s never walked more than 76 in a season, and has only walked more than 50 batters in a season three times. His career walk per nine rate is 2.6, and he had a career low 1.6 rate in 2012. His career whiff per nine rate is 5.6. Lohse has a 118-109 record, and a career ERA of 4.45.

Working with Cardinal’s former pitching coach Dave Duncan must have really helped Lohse. He really turned the corner once he came over to the Cardinals. I think working with Rick Honeycutt would help him develop even more. Honeycutt is quite good at discovering mechanical flaws in pitcher’s deliveries.

Lohse is primarily a fastball and curve pitcher. His fastball sits in the lower 90’s, but his best pitch is his curve. He also throws in the occasional Change-up. It’s interesting to note, that Lohse is a member of the Northern California Nomlaki tribe. Lohse is one of just three native American Major League Baseball players. He was featured in an exhibit called “Baseball League of Nations”, which was a tribute to native Americans in Baseball. The exhibit is at the Iroquois Indian museum in New York.

MLB Trade Rumors predicted Lohse to sign with the Dodgers, and rank him as the tenth best free agent on the market this winter. If we can’t work out a trade with Tampa Bay for James Shields, and if we’re not going to sign Angry Bird Man Greinke, then we’re going to need an alternative. Many people are skeptical that Lohse can keep up his production through a long term contract. Considering he’s a bit old to be having a breakout season. Note that he is likely to recieve a qualifying offer from the Cardinals, and they have until tomorrow to make him the offer. If they do and he leaves for free agency, the Cardinals would recieve draft pick compensation. Lohse could slot in as a decent number two or three starter, and could project for a three of four year deal for around 45-55 million dollars. That’s a mere drop in the bucket for the deep pockets of our new Guggenheim controlled ownership group. Is Kyle Lohse a decent alternative for the Dodgers?

Topics: Kyle Lohse, Los Angeles Dodgers

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  • WestCoast

    Change up and slider are more predominate than the straight curve. Dodger stadium is a pitchers park. He worked with little runs support in SL. Could have won 20+ with a better pen. Good club house guy and a veteran with plenty of playoff experience. His influence on the young pitchers would be difficult to gauge. A + I’m sure. The innings and the stability is why they will pay for him. You failed to mention the surgery/ injury that was the main issue in 09 2010. LA is building an offense. They need a guy like this to let it win games. He is money.

    • http://twitter.com/LasordasLair LasordasLair

      Good catch, I forgot to mention his injuries a few years ago. They werent serius though. I think he could be a fit in Blue.

      • WestCoast

        Yes they were serious. He was 5/0 when he got plunked in 09. He never returned to form until he had the innovative surgery mid season in 2010 . Since then he’s been lights out. SD will play for him. Angels. NY. He likes the West Coast and the NL. He takes 3 yrs with a mutual option. He is so economical, he has plenty of mileage left. The Dave Duncan thing is a bit hyped. Pitching to contact is really just learning to except it, by learning to control it. Guys with the fear, and they are many, just can’t confront that. Dave is a first rate psychologist.

        • http://twitter.com/LasordasLair LasordasLair

          Good point, the giuys who pitch to contact are more economical. Can he still reach low 90′s on the gun? What type of surgery did he have? I didn’t find too much info on his past surgery. He seems like he would be a good fit. People put too much reliance on the strikeout these days. hey as long as he gets guys out, I dont care how he does it.

          • WestCoast

            Google it and you can read all day. This is ESPN

            SAN DIEGO — St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse is set to undergo surgery on his right forearm Friday.

            Lohse,
            who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with exertional
            compartment syndrome, will have the surgery performed by Dr. Stephen
            Shin in Los Angeles.

            Lohse was examined by Shin on Wednesday at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles.

            “It
            explains everything I’ve been feeling throughout the last year,” Lohse
            said. “It explains why it’s such a hard thing to diagnose.”

            Exertional
            compartment syndrome is an uncommon, exercise-induced neuromuscular
            condition that causes pain and swelling in the legs or arms, and it can
            be difficult to identify.

            Lohse will have fascial release surgery performed on his forearm. There is no timetable for his return.

            Lohse, who is 1-4 with a 5.89 ERA, has not pitched since Saturday, when he lasted only 3 1/3 innings in a 10-7 loss at the Los Angeles Angels.
            Lohse said he experienced fatigue and cramping in his forearm in that
            start, similar to what he’s been feeling since last season.

            The move to the disabled list is retroactive to Sunday.

            Lohse joins right-handed starter Brad Penny on the DL. Penny was placed on the list Saturday because of a back strain.

            St. Louis purchased the contract of right-hander Fernando Salas from Triple-A Memphis to replace Lohse on the roster.

          • http://twitter.com/LasordasLair LasordasLair

            As long as he is healthy is all I care about.

          • WestCoast

            He seems very healthy. That’s just why he had a couple of down years.

          • http://twitter.com/LasordasLair LasordasLair

            Thanks for the info. I hope the Dodgers sign him if they don’t sign Greinke.

          • WestCoast

            Greinke is stable although medicated. That is just asking for trouble.

          • http://twitter.com/LasordasLair LasordasLair

            The Cardinals just made him a qualifying offer, hopefully he declines.