Kyle Lohse has finally found a home just in time for Opening Day. Lohse landed a three-year, $33 million deal from the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers hope he can help anchor a pitching staff that finished near the bottom of the league last year.
Lohse, who is represented by Scott Boras, didn't find a long line of suitors willing to overpay him for a career year. Though plenty of teams displayed interest in him, he refused to sign a one-year deal because he wanted to match or exceed Ryan Dempster's reasonable contract (two years, $26.5 mil from Boston). Call me crazy, but I don't see how a man who's gone 30-11 over the past two seasons with a 3.11 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 3.18 K/BB ratio had to wait until the week before Opening Day to secure a job. Surely someone out there could use a pitcher like that.
At 34 he's a bit on the old side, but he doesn't have quite as much mileage on his arm as fellow 34 year-olds Barry Zito, Johan Santana and Mark Buehrle. He doesn't strike many guys out, but neither does Tim Hudson. He doesn't have much of an established track record, but that didn't stop C.J. Wilson from signing a five-year, $77.5 million dollar deal. Lohse may not be the ace his statistics suggest he is, but he's a great rotation stabilizer behind Yovani Gallardo with an uncanny ability to limit his mistakes and locate his pitches. Lohse finds a way to overachieve and is a lot like Ryan Vogelsong in that sense.
I get that he has red flags, like BABiPs that are screaming to be corrected, but which pitcher doesn't? CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez have all taken on big workloads. Stephen Strasburg's mechanics makes him seems like an injury waiting to happen. Tim Lincecum, Josh Beckett, and Jon Lester have all lost some zip on their fastballs. Starting pitchers are inherently a risky bunch, but the hate with Lohse went too far. At worst, he's merely an average starting pitcher/mid-rotation innings eater. At best, he's All-Star caliber hurler worthy of Cy Young consideration. What's so bad about that?
He's not a difference-maker but still amounts to a nice addition for Milwaukee. He looked good in his first start of the spring on Thursday and should be good to go in two weeks. His first start will likely come against the St. Louis Cardinals, his former team, the weekend after next.