June 4, 2011; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcherKyle Lohse
(26) reacts as Chicago Cubs first basemanCarlos Pena
(22) rounds the bases after hitting a 2 run home run at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 5-4 in 12 innings. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
On Monday, the Kyle Lohse saga finally drew to a close, as the Milwaukee Brewers signed him to a 3 year, $33 million contract, ending months of speculation over whether or not the right-hander would have a home before Opening Day.
With the signing of Lohse, Milwaukee forfeited their first-round draft pick (17th overall) in the 2013 MLB Draft, which has drawn fire from many around the league. According to Keith Law of ESPN, prior to this deal, the Milwaukee farm system ranked 28th out of 30 teams. After giving up a first-round draft pick, it appears team owner Mark Attanasio is once again in a “win-now” mentality.
The signing has major ramifications in the National League Central, as it fills one of the largest holes in the Brewers roster, giving them a reliable starter to pencil in behind Yovani Gallardo. It also keeps Lohse in a division he has spent seven years in, with Cincinnati and St. Louis.
Lohse, who was originally drafted by the Cubs in 1996, rediscovered himself under the tutelage of former Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, going 30-11 over the course of three seasons in St. Louis, while posting a respectable 3.11 ERA. One team that has not struggled to touch Lohse during this stretch, however, has been the Chicago Cubs.
Over the last three years, Lohse has managed a 3-1 record in seven starts against Chicago, but a closer look at the numbers reveal something quite different. Cubs hitters have put up a .270 mark against the 36 year-old, and have pounded out 45 hits in 40.1 innings. The right-hander also allowed six home runs against Chicago, the second-most allowed to any team – behind only Washington, with seven.
Wrigley Field has not been particularly kind to Lohse of late, either, evidenced by his 4.50 ERA in the ‘Friendly Confines’. Granted, he has made just one start in Chicago over the past three years, but he allowed three runs in six innings of work. Where the Cubs stand to really capitalize against Lohse will be in Miller Park, where he has struggled in three starts. He is winless in three starts, and has posted a staggering 6.75 ERA over that stretch. Opposing lineups have tallied 12 runs in 18 innings, something that is likely to raise eyebrows following this signing.
The question that Attanasio and the Brewers are staring right in the eyes is simple. Which Kyle Lohse did they get for $33 million? The dominant, front-of-the-line starter from 2012, who went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA or the struggling right-hander who was 51-57 with a 4.88 ERA entering his age 34 season?