Kyle Lohse has stepped up to become the ace that the Cardinals lost when Adam Wainwright was lost for the 2011 season. At the age of 32, he is on his way to a career year after hovering around horrible and mediocre since arriving to the bigs in 2001. The exception was his only full season in St. Louis, where he went 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA, reaching 200 IP for the 2nd time in his career (2003 was his only other season).
Lohse has been an interesting pitcher over his career, currently 95-100 overall with a 4.66 ERA. His most interesting stat is his IP per season and his K/BB. Lohse, as said earlier, has only reached 200 IP twice in his career, yet, he has accumulated over 1650 IP in 279 starts and 24 relief appearances. If you factor in that he may have pitched one inning in each of his relief appearances, he would have pitched a little over 5 2/3 innings in each of his 279 starts. In comparison, a player similar to him, Joel Pineiro (also 32 with 246 starts and 69 relief appearances), averages a little over 6 1/3 innings in each of his starts, while also having just two seasons with over 200 IP, 2003 and 2009. Lohse hasn’t provided longevity in his starts because he has allowed nearly 10 hits per 9 IP over his career, including seven seasons with an average of 10 or higher. Why is he doing so well now?
Lohse is 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA and a league-best 0.92 WHIP, allowing a career low 6.6 hits per 9 IP. Simply put, he is not allowing as many hits. He has always had solid control, a career BB/9 IP of 2.7, but what makes him a breakdown candidate are these three statistics:
* His BABIP (batting average of balls in play) is currently sitting at .230, while his career average is .302. He was either very unlucky over 10 seasons or he is just getting lucky in 2011.
* His homeruns allowed per 9 IP is 0.34, while his career average is 1.10. After allowing a homerun per start over his career, he allows about one every three games now. When the heat rises this summer, this stat probably will, too.
* His left on base percentage is 79.1%, while his career average is 70.1%. Nearly a 10% jump in runners being stranded is amazing, but when the homers pick up with the heat, more runners will score and his ERA will rise with it.
Kyle Lohse has had a great start, but his seems to be more lucky than good. Player values can change and breakouts occur, but to have your career year in your 11th season doesn’t sound reasonable. When your career track record is most hightly related to Sidney Ponson, Eric Milton, and Steve Trachsel, you don’t have seasons like this. Kyle Lohse should get a dose of reality soon, and when he does, it could spell the end of the Cardinals.