Kyle Lohse: NL Cy Young Candidate?
Thursday September 27th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Kyle Lohse could be the most underrated pitcher in the National League, if not all of baseball. Granted, he does not have stand-out stuff and is not an eccentric character. He plays for the Cardinals, so he could be overshadowed by true “aces” Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. He blends in with the rest of the league. Over his 12-year career, Lohse has been mediocre, posting a cumulative 4.44 ERA. He started his career on the Minnesota Twins and bounced around between Cincinnati and Philadelphia over a three-year span. He finally settled in St. Louis in 2008 and found his stride (minus 2010).
In St. Louis excluding 2010, Lohse never had an ERA higher than 4.74, and beside this year, his lowest ERA was 3.39—last year. He has been reliable for the Cardinals, and has carried a good percentage of the workload. 2010 was a rough patch for Lohse—he only threw 92 innings and posted a 6.55 ERA. Last year was his best—leading up to this year—when he posted a 3.39 ERA over 188.1 innings of work. This year has been the best of his career by far. Up to now, Lohse has pitched over 200 innings—for just the third time in his career. His ERA sits at 2.77—the best of his career, and he has gone 16-3—his best record. He still will have a start or two left this season, so it will be interesting to see how he will build on these strong numbers. While everyone is talking Kris Medlen these days, plus Cain, Gio and Dickey, Lohse seems to have been lost in the shuffle.
So, with these stats, should Kyle Lohse be considered a Cy Young candidate? In my mind, yes. I do not believe that he will win it though. Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals should be the clear winner. He has better stats (20-8, 2.84 ERA, 193.1 IP, 201 K) and has reached the 20-win mark. Lohse lacks in the wins category (five less than Gonzalez) and falls way behind in strikeouts (only 134 compared to Gonzalez’s 201). Both pitchers play for successful teams, so that is not a factor. Gio Gonzalez was simply the better pitcher this year.
With Chris Carpenter out for the majority of the season, Lohse has stepped up big time. He played a big part in the Cardinals’ march to the World Series last year and will be a big factor should the Cardinals make the playoffs this year. He has been a contributor all year to a Cardinals team that no one thought would have this much success, given the loss of Albert Pujols to free agency and Chris Carpenter to injury.
Lohse is never part of Cy Young discussions because of the type of pitcher he is. Lohse does not stick out—he has a normal fastball with normal breaking pitches and a normal changeup. This year, it seems as if everything has clicked. Lohse showed some signs of improvement last year, but this year he has really shined. His innings count has improved from last year, increasing by about 20, and even though he is not a strikeout pitcher, he has increased his number of strikeouts from 111 to 134. He has also given up only six more hits in 17 more innings of work, and has actually decreased the number of earned runs from 80 (2011) to 70 (2012). He has also gained more control as his K/BB ratio has increased from 2.64 to 3.62. His SO/9 has stayed roughly the same over the past two years (5.3—2011 and 5.9—2012).
Although Lohse most likely will not win the Cy Young award this year, he has proved his value to the St. Louis team and fans. He now has a 3.89 ERA over the five years that he has spent as a Cardinal, and should not have a problem finding a new team if the Cardinals decide to let him walk as a free agent after this season.
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***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshansky, Baseball Writer & Facebook Administrator. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***
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Posted on September 27, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged adam wainwright, awards, baseball, cardinals, chris carpenter, combacks, craig kimbrel, cy young, emerging pitchers, end of the year, gio gonzalez, johnny cueto, kris medlen, kyle lohse, matt cain, mlb, nl, NL Central, playoffs, r.a. dickey, stephen strasburg. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.