I had some time so I put together a "path to victory" for Kyle Lohse against the Reds tonight. Thanks to the seven of you who recommended my Study Hall on Jake Westbrook last night. I don't know why the formatting is like that, but hopefully it wasn't too big of a pain.
The Kyle Lohse Path to Victory
The Ground Game
Kyle Lohse is not really a ground ball pitcher, even though he should be, and you'll see why in a second. Only once in his career has he had a ground ball rate of 45 percent. Last year, while successful, only 41 percent of the balls put in play against Lohse were grounders.
Yet, when Lohse evened up that ratio, he had terrific success. In starts where he had more ground balls to fly balls or an even number, here were his totals:
50 K/14 BB
Lohse should have one single focus when he's on the mound: ground balls. When he gets ground balls, he's almost Chris Carpenter. When he doesn't, he's very mediocre. Ground balls, ground balls, ground balls.
He got away with some fly balls against the Marlins, but in GABP, he's not going to be as lucky.
The Reds are going to start four players tonight (Rolen, Stubbs, Harris and Votto) who hit 40 percent of their balls into the ground. Lohse needs to summon whatever ground ball juju Joel Pineiro left in the dugout and use it.
Show 'Em the Slider
Obviously, it's too early to find a discernible pattern since Lohse has had just one game, but against the Marlins almost a quarter of his pitches were sliders, 50 percent were fastballs/sinkers and the other half was divvied up between changeups and curveballs.
One thing that stands out is that Lohse did well in getting those precious ground ball outs with his slider. In the third inning against Miami, he got Infante and Buck grounding out on sliders, then induced a double play in the fourth inning with a slider against Hanley Ramirez. He went back to the slider against Buck in the sixth and got another ground ball out.
It's important for a guy like Lohse to have a few more options to get (say it with me!) those ground outs.
On the other hand, it is a little concerning that Lohse got no swinging strikes on his "heat" which averaged just 89 mph. Of the two hits he allowed, only one came off his fastball/sinker, but one of the two pitches that Giancarlo Stanton hit to the moon were fastballs. He was also able to dig deep enough and get a big strikeout on Gaby Sanchez in the eighth inning with a fastball/sinker.
I'll be back after the game tonight or tomorrow morning with a write-up. Thanks for reading!