Let's, for a paragraph, not think about how he's done it. Let's not think about whether he'll keep doing it, either. Right now, here's what Kyle Lohse has done: Allow 3.05 runs, earned and unearned, per nine innings; pitch 6.41 innings per start. The St. Louis Cardinals, as it's turned out, have needed those innings more than we could have suspected back in March.
So here's to Kyle Lohse: He's been more Dave Duncan than Dave Duncan this year. His walk rate is third in the National League, behind Joe Blanton and Mark Buehrle, and like those two he's doing it not because he's throwing a sinker but because he's willing to throw his sub-90 fastball in the strikezone almost all the time, and because his off-speed stuff is good, and not just kind-of-good.
He bored me in 2008, and he bored me when I was lucky in 2009 and 2010, but I love watching Lohse now; he's concise. He appears to know he's never the main attraction--that on a given day in a six-month season in the last moments of a four-year contract we'll be more interested in some scuffling rookie or a new journeyman or a weird defensive alignment. I'd like to thank him for that personally, when I'm getting psyched about watching Mark Hamilton or something.
Lance Lynn was also doing all this, in a more exciting way, until his last three starts. Which is why I can only go on here for so many paragraphs about Kyle Lohse before I have to wonder about whether he'll be able to keep doing it--before I have to wonder about what the Cardinals will do without it.
Surprise answer: I think they'll do pretty okay.
I'm going to try to describe a fallacy here, even though I'm not convinced anybody but me is actually dealing with it. Baseball Reference is incredible. Ever since it went day-to-day it gives you a basically complete snapshot of everything that's gone into making a baseball team succeed or fail up to that point in the season on a single page.
That's great, but I think it leads me into a weirdly rigid pattern of thinking about a performance like Lohse's. I begin to think: The Cardinals are 42-38, and that happened with Kyle Lohse pitching like Tom Glavine. What will happen when he doesn't pitch like Tom Glavine?
But really every player is in motion all season, and the idea that we can hold all their trajectories in our head and spit out a Momentum reading is ridiculous. Behind Lance Lynn there was Kyle Lohse, and behind Kyle Lohse there's Jake Westbrook, who's got three strikeouts for every walk since the start of June. This is true talent level sneaking up on us--we rush to correct individual cases and get ourselves paranoid or overly excited, but it's working, erratically, on everybody at once.