The Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, and Cincinnati Reds have all been tied to recent rumors involving free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse. According to a report from MLB Network's Jon Heyman, at least the Orioles are believed to have already made an offer.
Lohse spent last season with the Milwaukee Brewers, starting in 22 games and struggling substantially. At 5.12, he posted the worst FIP of his major league career and his worst ERA since 2010. In his 152.1 innings, Lohse retired 108 batters via strikeout -- which is in line with his career norms -- however, he allowed 29 home runs at a 15.3 percent home run to flyball rate.
His fastball velocity has been dropping over the past three seasons and hit an all-time low of 89 mph on average in 2015. His home run trouble may be attributable to his lost velocity, but also partially to Miller Park, bad placement, or at least somewhat to some bad luck.
Tigers, orioles, reds among teams showing interest in kyle lohse. Looking for "right fit." at least o's made offer.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 18, 2016
The Orioles -- who appeared to have a somewhat suspect rotation heading into 2016 -- are off to great start at 8-3. They began the season on a seven-game winning streak. By ERA, the Orioles rank 10th in the American League which is less than ideal.
Compounding matters further, the rotation ranks 14th -- next to last -- in ERA. However, by FIP, the team ranks second, and the rotation ranks fifth, suggesting some bad luck has befallen the pitching staff. Of all the teams in the major leagues, the Orioles rotation has pitched the fourth-least amount of innings weighted by games played. While they're only eleven games in, putting extra miles on a bullpen is never ideal, and the rotation has pitched barely more than five innings per start.
The Tigers on the other hand have struggled with the fifth-worst ERA and third-worst FIP in the American League. Their rotation looked relatively set heading into 2016, though an injury to Daniel Norris created some doubt about the fifth starter. It turns out, the fifth starter has been the least of their worries, as Shane Greene has handled his one start admirably.
Instead, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Mike Pelfrey are giving up home runs, not stranding runners, and not generating a whole lot of ground balls either. The good news is that all three of those will likely regress to career norms. However, some damage has already been done and Lohse could help eat some innings for a team that, despite their troubles, is 7-4.
The Reds are probably in the most dire need of Lohse's assistance. With a rotation ERA of 4.31, it may seem passable. However, the rotation's FIP of 5.47 indicates it has over-performed. Furthermore, they are only 13 games into the season, and seven different pitchers have started.
The Reds are in rebuild, so starting some different pitchers can be somewhat expected. But beyond Raisel Iglesias and Brandon Finnegan -- and even the latter is unproven -- the Reds' rotation might continue to change. Especially with Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani on the disabled list.
While the Reds may require Lohse the most, the 37-year old free agent may be looking for a team closer to contention that he could help. Lohse might be too old to consider the Reds as a viable option. While they may offer him the most opportunities to rejuvenate his career, Lohse likely isn't looking for a way to get a more lucrative deal in 2017.
Instead, the Orioles and Tigers could make more sense. At some point of the season, Lohse may end up being a long-reliever or swing man with either of those teams. However, it perhaps affords him more of an opportunity for contention.