Study Hall: Kyle Lohse vs. Cincinnati

For the second time this season, Kyle Lohse did not miss many bats, watched a couple of balls get drilled, but showed good control, made some tough pitches and the Cardinals were rewarded with another victory.

Against Miami last Wednesday, Lohse perhaps pitched to the ballpark, as a certain broadcaster might imply. He couldn't get away with that in Cincinnati, not even on a 51 degree night.

Let's revisit the two biggest keys to Lohse being successful against Cincinnati:

The Ground Game

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.

Willie Harris: Ground out, ground out, pop out

Scott Rolen: Fly out, line out, ground out

Joey Votto: Single (grounder up the middle), fly out, fly out

Drew Stubbs: Ground out, strike out

Mission accomplished with that bunch.

For the game, Lohse had eight grounders to eight fly ball outs. That isn't ideal, especially on a night when he gets just four swinging strikes and threw 53 fastball/sinkers. Someone at Fangraphs will probably write "BEWARE FIP" tomorrow regarding Lohse, but it doesn't matter.

Show 'Em the Slider

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.

Lohse threw closer to the Lohse of last season than he did last week against Miami, pumping more fastballs/sinkers and fewer off-speed pitches. Not to say this is a bad thing, but last week his slider resulted in good things. In the first inning he retired Cozart on a slider, then did the same to Stubbs in the second inning and Mesoraco in the fifth inning.

It's possible Lohse just didn't have a feel for the slider tonight.

Changeups to Jay Bruce?

The Cardinals must feel that Jay Bruce is susceptible to changeups because of the 14 Lohse threw, seven of them were against the Reds' right fielder. Bruce doubled in the second, struck out in the fourth and singled home Cincinnati's only run in the sixth. Both of his hits were on changeups. Here's the pitch sequence in the second inning:

Pitch 1: Fastball

Pitch 2: Changeup

Pitch 3: Fastball

Pitch 4: Changeup

Pitch 5: Changeup

With Bruce up in the fourth, Lohse went back to alternating between fastballs and changeups, trying to jam Bruce on the inside:

Pitch 1: Fastball (inside)

Pitch 2: Changeup (outside)

Pitch 3: Fastball (inside)

Pitch 4: Fastball (inside)

Pitch 5: Changeup (inside)

Bruce swung right through that second changeup, likely because Lohse had him so far off balance.

In the sixth, Lohse started Bruce out with a curveball:

Pitch 1: Curveball (inside)

Pitch 2: Fastball (inside)

Pitch 3: Fastball (inside)

Pitch 4: Fastball (inside)

Pitch 5: Changeup (outside)

Pitch 6: Changeup (outside)

No issues here with Lohse going outside, but he probably should've shown him something else.

Avoiding Danger

The third inning could have been disastrous for Lohse. After retiring Harris on a ground ball (left a sinker up), he hit Cozart, then left a sinker that didn't exactly sink against Votto, but it died in left field:



Against Rolen, he left up another non-sinking sinker that was roped to shortstop:



Luck was on Lohse's side tonight, as those balls did not end up where they should have.


Cold weather probably played a factor on both ends tonight, but Lohse gritted it out and made some very good pitches when he had to. Against ground ball hitters, he got ground balls. He turned away rallies and Lord knows what Lohse does isn't sexy, but tonight it was damn effective.

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