The St. Louis Cardinals are coming off a disappointing 2-4 road trip as perennial National League Central Division doormats Cincinnati and Pittsburgh wiped their cleats on St. Louis. As a result, the club is on the verge of falling out of the division’s top spot for the first time since the fifth day of the season.
Returning home to face co-NL Central leader the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend, the Cards are asking veteran right-hander Kyle Lohse to right the skid that includes seven losses in their last 11 games. Two of those defeats were taken by Lohse.
While the surging Brewers (17 for their last 22, best in baseball) just added top prospect Mat Gamel to their roster, the reeling and injured Redbirds have had to call on the likes of lesser lights Shane Robinson and Nick Stavinoha for reinforcement that has not yet been delivered.
Lohse will make his team-high eighth start on Friday in the first game of the homestand, but seems an unlikely source to provide a slump-stopping performance.
The Cardinals have fallen in each of the last three games Lohse has started and as noted above, he picked up the loss in both of the last two. His most-recent appearance was last Saturday, May 9 at Cincinnati. The club was defeated 8-3 as Lohse pitched six innings and allowed seven runs.
You won’t find encouragement when you look at Lohse’s past against the Brewers, either. He has made ten career starts against Milwaukee and holds a 3-3 record and a 5.22 ERA. In Lohse’s three starts against the Brew Crew last season, the Cardinals lost each one, though he had help as he did not receive a decision in any of them.
The 30-year-old allowed three runs over eight innings in his last start against Milwaukee on July 22 of last season, as the Brewers scored in the top of the ninth for a 4-3 win. Kyle McClellan took that loss as the Cardinals would go on to be swept four straight at home to close out their first homestand of the second half.
The month of May has not been kind to Lohse to date. After beginning the season at 3-0 with a 1.97 ERA in five April starts, he is 0-2 with an 11.32 ERA so far this month.
In fact, May has always been a problem for Lohse. In 38 career starts during this month, he is 12-17, with the .414 winning mark the worst in any such period over the career 81-82 hurler’s nine-year MLB history. His aggregate May ERA is 4.90.
The right-hander has been pitching through back and knee soreness, dealt with the flu and was recently struck on his non-pitching elbow by a batted ball. Partially as a result, both Lohse and Adam Wainwright were given an extra day of rest this time through the rotation.
The slumping Cardinals badly need a member of their struggling rotation to somehow find a way to come up with a well-pitched victory. During this 11-game period, the club’s starters have made just two quality starts (six innings or more, three runs or fewer).
Friday offers Lohse a turn to take his best shot.