Monday, December 17, 2012
Hot Stove talk: Kyle Lohse
By Richard Durrett
We continue to take a look at some names of players still on the market and whether they make sense for the Texas Rangers to consider.
Today's player: Kyle Lohse
Many of you have emailed or contacted me on Twitter asking about Lohse, one of the top free-agent pitchers left on the market. Let's examine the 34-year-old's resume.
He was 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 2012 with 143 strikeouts and 38 walks. He had a 1.09 WHIP. To put that in perspective, Lohse set career highs in wins, strikeouts, WHIP and ERA. Lohse made 33 starts and pitched 211 innings. Yes, those are the most innings Lohse has ever thrown in a season.
So he's coming off his best season ever as he looks for a new deal. That's not bad timing, clearly. He had a 3.39 ERA in 188 1/3 innings in 2011, so it's not as if 2012 completely came out of nowhere.
But it's worth noting that Lohse hasn't pitched in the American League since early in 2006, his final half-season with the Minnesota Twins. Here's part of what ESPN.com's Keith Law said about Lohse when he posted his top free agent list in early November (Lohse is No. 6 overall on that list):
Lohse pitches with an average to fringe-average fastball, right around 90 mph, and his go-to pitch is an 83-86 mph slider that is more like a slider/cutter, with a short break that allows him to keep it in the zone when he needs to but doesn't have the swing-and-miss power of a true slider with hard break down and away from right-handed batters.
That lack of a true out pitch would concern me if I were looking at signing Lohse and had a porous defense or wanted to sign him beyond two years to an age where diminishing velocity would be a concern. If he loses another grade off his fastball, he'll drop to fifth-starter territory or worse.
Lohse would give the Rangers a veteran presence in the rotation and someone who has shown the past few years that he can eat innings. But I go back to something we've discussed at times this offseason: Is he an impact pitcher at the top of the rotation? I don't think so. With every free agent on the market, the Rangers must decide what kind of value they have and is it a better option than some young, internal options. Lohse would be nice to have in the middle of the rotation, but the cost would have be right and I think it may be too high.
What do you think? You willing to give Lohse a multi-year deal or do you see if Martin Perez, Justin Grimm or others can seize that No. 5 spot and go with Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando in front of them?