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.
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.
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?