High hopes for Lohse
BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM
SARASOTA, Fla. – One of Reds manager Jerry Narron’s favorite subjects this spring has been Kyle Lohse.
“I think Kyle Lohse has a chance to have a breakout year," Narron said. “His stuff is as good as anybody’s we have. His changeup is outstanding.”
Consider this: Lohse throws harder and has more big league wins than either Bronson Arroyo or Aaron Harang.
But Lohse is three seasons removed from having a winning record for an entire season.
“I’ve some good years and some not so good obviously,” Lohse said. “This would be a good time to put together than complete good year.”
Lohse was one of the players who came over in all last year’s wheeling and dealing by general manager Wayne Krivsky. The Reds got Lohse from Minnesota on July 31. The player they sent to the Twins, Zach Ward, was the best minor leaguer the Reds gave up in their plethora of trades.
That’s because Lohse had so much upside. He was in the big leagues at 22. He throws up to 94. And he’s only 28.
Lohse made 11 starts for the Reds. He was 3-5 with 4.50 ERA and twice was victim of blown saves.
Reds pitching coach Dick Pole first saw Lohse when Lohse broke into the big leagues. Pole was a coach with Cleveland.
“I saw him when first came up. I was very impressed with the stuff that he has,” Pole said. “He’s had some good years. He got into some kind of rut.”
But the stuff remained the same.
“Oh, yeah, he’s got great stuff,” Pole said.
The Reds are trying to limit the number of different pitches Lohse uses. He throws a fastball, changeup, slider and curve.
“His changeup is good enough that he’s one of those guys who could get away with two pitches,” Narron said.
Right now, the plan is go fastball-change-slider with an occasional curve mixed in.
“That’s our aim,” Pole said. “It kind of simplifies things.”
Lohse is all for it.
“Whatever they want to do, I’d going to try,” he said.
Lohse’s situation is much more settled this year. He’s going to be in rotation. With the Twins, he started and relieved last year – and spent time in the minors.
“All I want is a chance to compete every fifth day,’ he said. “It’s going to be good for me over here. It’s a nice little change.”
Things had soured a bit for Lohse in Minnesota. The Twins took him to arbitration each of the last two years. Lohse won.
“But that’s no fun,” he said. “Ask Wayne about it. It’s kind of ugly in there.”
Krivsky prepared Minnesota’s case as assistant GM there. This year, Lohse signed for $4.2 million on Jan. 7 - well before the case was scheduled to go to arbitration.
Lohse went 13-8 with a 4.23 ERA in 2002 and 14-11 with 4.61 in ’03. But he’s 23-36 with 5.01 ERA in the three years since.
Again, the Reds are banking that stuff plus maturity plus a defined role equals success.
“How old is he? 28?” Pole said. “That’s usually the time that guys like him get it figured out a little bit.”
The other factor is Lohse will be pitching in the National League from the start of the season Arroyo went from a 4.51 ERA with Boston in 2005 to 3.29 with the Reds in 2006.
“He’s learning a new league,” Pole said. “That American League is a little different than it is over here. That’s Arena Baseball over there. In this league, you got to take advantage of the eighth and ninth hitters. You can’t do that in the American League. They’re hitting .300 for crying out loud.”
Lohse thinks the key is consistency.
“I’ve had good months,” he said. “Then I have one that gets me off track. It be nice to go out and have a solid year.”