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It is time for us to stop taking Kyle Lohse for granted

I admit it. I am among the many who have consistently under-appreciated St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse.

The right-hander again delivered on an important stage on Monday night. In the big series opener at Pittsburgh, he picked up his 14th win of the season. Lohse was artificially limited to five innings by a 34-minute rain delay followed by manager Mike Matheny‘s decision not to bring him back out. Lohse was scored upon only in the fourth inning, when the Pirates plated two runs on four singles and a sacrifice fly.

Because of the shortened outing, Lohse missed a chance for his 21st quality start in 27 outings this season. His rate of going at least six innings while allowing three or fewer runs is still best on a staff that includes ace Adam Wainwright.

Lohse’s 14 wins tie him for sixth in the National League. Three pitchers have 16. His .875 winning percentage, based on his 14-2 record, is far better than the next-best NL hurler. (The Mets’ R.A. Dickey is second at .800.)

With an ERA of 2.64, Lohse is definitely in the hunt for the NL ERA title. His mark is third-lowest among qualifiers, just 0.17 behind leader Johnny Cueto of Cincinnati. It is a balanced performance, too, as Lohse ranks in the NL top 10 in both home ERA (2.23, third) and road ERA (3.06, ninth).

It remains to be seen how the Cardinals and Lohse finish the season, but for the first time in his 12-year career, he should receive serious consideration in the NL Cy Young Award voting. Lohse has never received a vote for the award in the past. ESPN’s Cy Young Predictor currently has Lohse ranked fourth, behind Cueto, Dickey and Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman.

Then again, the same type of apathy could prevail that left Lohse off the 2012 National League All-Star roster. A far less experienced teammate with only slightly flashier numbers at the time, Lance Lynn, was chosen. Just 45 days later, Lynn is in the bullpen while Lohse keeps on ticking.

In fact, speaking of consistency, consider Lohse’s current winning streak. His mark of eight games, going back to June 26, is the longest active run in Major League Baseball.

Further, Lohse does his magic with the lowest run support of any of the six starters used by the Cardinals this season, at just 4.2 runs. Lynn is tops at 5.9.

Going against prevailing thinking that his time in St. Louis has been overshadowed by injury is this nugget from researcher Tom Orf. Lohse is just the 10th Cardinals pitcher since 1960 to amass three 14-win seasons. He is tied for fifth in that mark. In his case, it was accomplished over five years.

In other words, 2012 isn’t just a flash in the pan for the 33-year-old free agent-to-be. Despite Lohse’s future with the Cardinals beyond this season being cloudy, no one should continue to take him for granted.

One last area remains for Lohse to put an exclamation point on the Cardinals segment of his career – the post-season. Last year, Lohse struggled throughout the playoffs. He made one start in each of the three series – NLDS, NLCS and World Series. Lohse went 0-2, allowing 11 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings for an ERA of 7.82.

Perhaps a shorter outing like Monday, along with September bullpen reinforcements, will help Lohse remain fresher for what he and his teammates surely want to be another run deep into October.

Either way, let’s not forget that if there is a post-season for the 2012 Cardinals, Lohse’s generally-unheralded regular-season contributions will prove to have been a big reason why.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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16 Responses to “It is time for us to stop taking Kyle Lohse for granted”

  1. crdswmn says:

    I appreciate Lohse very much. I wish we could keep him. But realistically the Cardinals can’t afford to sign Lohse and have any expectancy of extending Wainwright. The Cardinals aren’t the Dodgers. And between a choice of Lohse and Wainwright it should be no surprise which side I come down on.

    I hope Lohse get the contract he deserves, just not with the Cardinals.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Agree. I specifically stopped short of suggesting a new contract with the Cardinals. Hopefully he will go to the AL where he won’t be as much trouble down the road.

      • kray66 says:

        I agree as well. It would be nice to keep him, but I don’t see it happening. I am a bit nervous to be counting on Carp to be effective in 2013, but I don’t think you can sign Lohse to a reasonable deal on the chance that Carp isn’t able to pitch. Especially not for the $ that he deserves.

    • blingboy says:

      There is a possibility Boras overplays his hand and Kyle ends up still looking for work. Cards could move in at that point. Longshot, but Boras has done it before.

      In the back of my mind, I wonder if Mo and BDW will meekly let arguably their best starter walk without a serious effort. You know what they say about assumptions. But he is 34 almost. He and Boras would have to willing to factor that in.

  2. blingboy says:

    Unless things go horribly wrong, Kyle will be 34 before this season wraps up. During his time as a Card he’s turned himself into a winning pitcher, which he wasn’t when he got here. I won’t blame him for trying to cash in.

  3. blingboy says:

    We are 6 out, and my hope is to get within 3 by the end of September. Real men would scoff at such a paltry task.

  4. blingboy says:

    1. Is Carp just teasing us with his “I Don’t know, we’ll see what happens”, when asked if he will pitch yet this season. That was after his 40 pitch bullpen. Whaaaaaat????

    2. I like Jay-Skip at the top of the lineup. The all lefty look.

  5. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    There is a litmus test approaching……… Tony still believed in the end that if he smeared K, that might create more financial flexibility to sign AP……… thus restoring his job……….. I’m curious to see whether Dave will encourage Boston to sign K to help him in setting an example of his pitching philosophy/ methods………. you guys are pretty much right on with everything else????????????????

  6. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    I will try again. ….. Rays are a playoff team…………. they are a contender……….because of their payroll limitations……..they are aggressive and savvy business people……. Cardinals approached them before the deadline offering a deal……….. that deal was Kelly (who was throwing very well) and a top prospect for Shields ……… Shields is a good pitcher……….. Rays sent scouts up to Springfield….not Memphis to see what they might see………they liked that nice little CF…… replace one of their own likely……and one other…….. The Cardinals said “too much”……….Rays said “sorry”………. Rays looking to hustle a rube like Mo?…..maybe see what the H he was about in the first place……..they paid expense money for their scouts to explore the Cardinal position ……… sooooooooo what was the Cardinal position???…… I know all the permutations……… whats the point?

    Here in lies the problem…………. this is Billiam DeWitt at work…….multiple options Billy………the guy is good………. therein lies the answer to things you hope to understand…….. he played for three options…….. the deal broke down so he did what? That is how he thinks………. KL is gone…..AW is exploring his options…….. line drive to the noggin could change anyone’s plans…….

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      “I had a horrible first half,” Wainwright said. “I know my side of it will get better as it goes. For their side, there might be more reason to come early. I get it.”

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