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MVBrewers #4: Kyle Lohse takes the second spot in a strong starting rotation

Kyle Lohse continued to pitch well in 2014, giving the starting rotation a formidable 1-2 punch with Peralta.

Tom Lynn

When Kyle Lohse was signed by the Brewers before the 2013 season, it wasn't the best received move by the club. Many people saw the age of Lohse. Many lamented the loss of a first round draft pick. Some even started drawing comparisons to Jeff Suppan. However, after two seasons, it's safe to say that those concerns have been silenced.

After a great season in 2013, he built on that with his 2014 season. He pitched nearly 200 innings for the second straight year (1981), improved his FIP (3.95), and nearly set a personal best for strikeouts (141). While his ERA (3.54) and walk rate (2.0 BB/9) did increase, neither of those really hurt him as the season went on. His consistency allowed him to remain #4 in the MVBrewers poll for the second straight year.

One change Lohse made to his pitching this season is his reliance on the fastball. He only used it 6% of the time this year (compared to 15% last year), while his sinker percentage rose to 39.7% (up from 31.8%). He also saw an increase in the use of his other offspeed pitches during the season. This shows a shift in philosophy, going to a more deceptive approach with his pitches. His velocity was mostly unchanged as well, and this shift in pitch types may benefit him as he continues in the league.

The one concern about Kyle Lohse going into 2015 is his durability to last an entire season. While he hasn't seen the DL in the last four seasons, the strain of a six-month season may be wearing him out. Between the first and second half of the season, his ERA (3.26 / 4.04) and FIP (3.63 / 4.53) both had noticeable increases. His walk rate also increased and his strikeout rate decreased, along with a decrease in his ground ball rate and an increase in his fly ball rate. His HR/FB and BABIP rates were virtually unchanged, which suggests this was a result of more balls being hit over other factors, such as defense.

At the same time, some of those fears may be quieted by the way he ended the season. He pitched a strong game in a critical matchup against the Cardinals on September 18, and had a complete game shutout in his last start of the season against the Reds. Those are both good signs as he enters the last year of his deal. If the Brewers want to compete in 2015, they will need Lohse at his best. He should be ready to give his best.

Best Game

Kyle Lohse pitched two complete game shutouts during the 2014 season. The second of those came on September 24, when he held the Reds to two baserunners in a 5-0 win. However, his more impressive one came on June 1, when he needed just 93 pitches to record a complete game shutout in a 9-0 rout of the Cubs.  Here are some highlights from the game:

Contract Status

Kyle Lohse will enter the final year of his three-year deal in 2015. He will make $11 million in 2015 to finish out his deal, and it does not include an option. This means he will be a free agent following the 2015 season. It may be tough for him to get another deal at 38, but considering how well he is pitching, I wouldn't count him out yet.

Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below, or in their own dedicated section:

  1. Jonathan Lucroy
  2. Carlos Gomez
  3. Wily Peralta