Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Those Middle Innings Are a Doozy

White Sox 5, Twins 4

I recently saw someone refer to Brad Radke as a "poor man's Greg Maddux," meaning that he's of a similar type of pitcher but not as expensive because, well, Brad Radke is no Greg Maddux. He's never going to have a plaque hanging in the Hall of Fame. So how could we similarly characterize Kyle Lohse? Is he the poor man's Brad Radke?

Last night he had a Radke-esque game going through 5 innings, complete with the solo home run conceded in the 1st inning and the 2-run job to put a little wrinkle in the game in the 5th. He just needed another one or two clean frames to make it a classic "pretty good except for a couple mistakes" Radke start. Just pitch a clean 6th inning, and today we might be saying that Lohse had an encouraging start. Six good innings, just a couple mistakes, he kept the team in the ballgame. But he didn't have it in him.

The #2 hitter Tadahito Iguchi pulled a 2-2 pitch on the inside corner to LF for a single. Then Carl Everett, who had homered in his first at-bat of the game, came up for his third meeting with Kyle. Lohse grooved a ball down the heart of the plate, and Everett yanked it into the RF seats like he'd been calling for the pitch. That would prove to be the decisive difference in the game.

Getting through the middle innings has been an ongoing problem for Lohse. In the past three years, he's done a respectable job of holding batters to a .251/.309/.403 line in the first 3 innings of games. In innings 4-6, that line shoots up to .309/.363/.495. This year the difference is even more starkly drawn: .188/.188/.438 in the first 3 innings; .405/.425/.730 in innings 4-6. Is it a problem of stamina, or do most hitters just turn into All-Stars after they've seen his stuff a couple times?

One would think that someone who supposedly has "the best stuff on the staff" wouldn't have such trouble keeping batters off balance more than once or twice through the order. But there it is.

The Twins must think the world of Lohse's raw talent in order to show such patience in waiting for him to work through his growing pains as a starting pitcher. He's made 32+ starts in each of the past three seasons, and never had to accept a regular role in the bullpen. As the club has other options coming up from the farm, however, maybe it's time to cut bait on Lohse's development in the rotation and convert him into a short reliever to compliment Juan Rincon and J.C. Romero.


At 4/19/2005 11:26 PM, Blogger SBG said...

Not a bad idea. My thoughts last night (had I blogged) were is there any doubt that Lohse is the fifth guy in this rotation. No, he's not that. With Gassner pitching well and Silva coming back, I'd be more than happy to see Lohse in the bullpen. Maybe Mr. Guerrier can spend some time in upstate New York.

At 4/19/2005 11:33 PM, Blogger Jonzard said...

There was some rumbling about him being a closer not too long ago. It is true, Kyle Lohse is the bankrupt man's Greg Maddux.


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