Tag Archives: Kyle Lohse

Predicting who gets traded and who stays

We are now at the All-Star break, and for teams sitting at the bottom of the standings, like the Milwaukee Brewers are, it’s a welcome furlough. The four-days off is also usually the beginning of trade season, as teams are either getting ready to stack up for a postseason run or start shedding veterans in order to ignite the rebuilding process. In case you don’t know anything about anything, the Brewers will be doing the latter. At 38-52, they have the second-worst record in Major League Baseball. They are officially sellers.

Milwaukee is currently in possession of a handful of players who contending teams should be calling about. They have veterans with expiring contracts, but they also have players who are on the cusp of their primes, making them extremely coveted.

The Brewers won’t trade their entire roster (even though I’m not against the idea), but it’s safe to say they’ll be sending a few players out of the city known for its beer. So let’s make some predictions.

Players who will get traded

OF Gerardo Parra – Numerous teams are in need of outfield depth (see Kansas City), and with the way Parra has performed offensively, his name is one of the hottest on the block. Of outfielders with at least 300 plate appearances, he has the 13th-highest wRC+, not to mention his on-base percentage of .344 would be his best mark since 2011. Parra is as good as gone.

SP Kyle Lohse – I know his ERA and everything else you can possibly look at is downright terrible, but I still have this feeling that a team is going to take a flyer on him, for the right price, of course. The Brewers won’t get much back and they’ll probably to have pay some of his remaining salary, but with Lohse being a free agent after the season, why wouldn’t a team in need of a back-end starter go after him?

3B Aramis Ramirez – Every team needs hitting and Ramirez can still provide that at 37 years old. He’s a notorious slow starter and this season was definitely no exception. His numbers are finally beginning to improve, however. After producing a .272 wOBA in June, he crushed the ball in July and finished the month with a .366 wOBA. He, like Lohse, is in the last year of his contract (and career). He’s a rental who a team will trade for.

1B Adam Lind – He’s been the best player on the Brewers in 2015 and is probably the best hitter on the market. He’s already put up 2.1 WAR while creating an impressive 43% more runs than league average. Lind could bring back a fairly decent haul, especially compared to the other guys I listed above. If a team is looking for a high OBP player who hits home runs, Lind is the man for the job.

RP Francisco Rodriguez – I’ll admit I was wrong about Rodriguez. I thought he would be equally as bad as he was in 2014, but as it turns out, he’s been lights-out. His strikeout rate (30.8%) is back in line with his career norms and he’s no longer getting bit by home runs. He would be a very valuable add to a bullpen in need of a high-leverage reliever. The only thing stopping a team for making a play for him is his big contract. He’s owed $7.5 million in 2016 with a $6 million club option in ’17 ($2 million buyout). That’s a lot of money for a closer who’s been up and down in the past few seasons. Still, I think the Brewers will trade him yet again, but this time, there will be no reunion between the two.

Players who won’t get traded

OF Carlos Gomez – The Brewers should trade him, but I think they’ll wait another year. They need to be able to sell tickets in 2016, in spite of the talent-less roster they’re sure to put together, and people will pay to see Gomez. I feel like that is a terrible reason not to trade someone, especially since his value now is higher than it will be next year, but it’s what the Brewers will presumably do.

C Jonathan Lucroy – Lucroy’s going to stay in Milwaukee as well. The Brewers will have to be unbelievably blown away in order to trade a great catcher with a team-friendly contract like Lucroy. I think Lucroy will be involved in a mid-season trade next season, but not this one.

RP Jonathan Broxton – Making the playoffs and doing well once you’re there is nearly impossible without a quality bullpen. Basically everyone is looking for bullpen depth. By old-school numbers Broxton has been less than quality in 2015, which is why I don’t see him being moved. The Brewers would get next to nothing in return for him. so maybe their mindset is, why bother?

SS Jean Segura – I struggled with Segura. I can easily see him being traded, seeing as how Orlando Arcia is coming for his job. But which team is going to give up what the Brewers demand for him? That’s the big question here. Segura is a young and defensively talented shortstop who hasn’t hit much to date. What’s he really worth? Because that’s unknown, I think Segura stays put.

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Grade the game (July 1, 2015)

After each (most, at least) game, I’ll write a short but of course exciting recap of said game. Then, you the reader, will have the opportunity to give the Brewers a grade based on their performance. Simple enough, right?

Kyle Lohse (6.28 ERA/5.09 FIP) actually won a game, beating out Aaron Harang (3.56 ERA/4.00 FIP). Harang could barely get an out as he gave up eight runs on 14 hits in five innings. In all, the Brewers accumulated 17 hits, and found out there is actually a team they’re better than. Milwaukee won the game 9-5, their fourth-consecutive victory. The top four hitters in Milwaukee’s lineup combined to go 9-for-19 with seven runs batted in. Scooter Gennett (.246 OBP) led the way with two doubles and a triple, but had another fielding error.

The play that made the game worth watching: Adam Lind mashes a two-run homer in the first inning.

Stat of the day: Lohse went 3-for-5 at the plate, raising his wOBA from .106 to .183.

My grade: A

Lohse actually pitched OK and the offense destroyed Harang. Give ’em an A.

 

Grades so far (beginning on June 29)

A: 0

B: 2

C: 0

D: 0

F: 0

An update on Kyle Lohse’s changeup

Back in February, I took a look at Kyle Lohse‘s changeup usage in individual games and attempted to figure out whether it, in some way, correlated with success. I discovered that since 2013, whenever Lohse threw his changeup 20 or more times, his Earned Run Average was significantly lower than when he didn’t. Here’s the chart that illustrates what I’m talking about.

Changeups Starts ERA
0-10 27 3.83
11-19 28 3.42
20+ 8 2.73

Like I said back then, two years of data is still a somewhat small sample size, but from what I gathered, the more changeups Lohse throws, the more success he will have.

Still, I was curious to see if that holds true so far in 2015. Lohse is having a horrific and catastrophic season, so much so that at least one MLB executive thinks there’s no way the Milwaukee Brewers will be able to trade him. He has the worst ERA among qualified starters, has the 12th-highest home-run-to-fly-ball ratio and is inducing the fewest amount of ground balls since 2007. By those numbers, it’s probably easy to guess that even if Lohse has used his changeup more this season (he’s actually thrown it at the highest rate of his career), the results won’t be pretty.

Let’s take a look, anyway. First, however, we need to understand how hitters are faring against his change. There’s no place better than Brooks Baseball to find that out.

Count K XBH Batting Average ISO
261 14 5 .247 .117

Lohse’s changeup isn’t nearly as effective as it was a year ago. In 2014, hitters batted .143 with an isolated power of .095. He threw it at just a 12.7% clip then, which has since risen to 19.5% this season. Is it possible he’s throwing it too much now?

I broke down each of Lohse’s starts in 2015 the same way I did from 2013-14 in the first table I showed you, and here’s what I found:

Changeups Starts ERA
0-10 2 5.54
11-19 7 9.76
20+ 6 5.22

Once again, Lohse has had the most success when he throws his slow pitch 20 or more times. It’s nowhere near the same kind of success he’s had in the past, but nonetheless, it’s still something. What’s interesting is how much he’s getting crushed when he throws it 11-19 times. His ERA has ballooned from what it was in 2013-14, so maybe Lohse’s change can only be dominant when he uses it on a somewhat rare basis. Maybe throwing it 19% of the time is too much. Maybe it’s about pitch location.

Lohse

Nope, it’s not pitch location.

You know what it probably is? Lohse is just not a good pitcher anymore. His age is catching up to him and his time as an effective pitcher is over. His changeup is still his best pitch in terms of changeup runs above average, but because his other pitches have become so hittable, the value of his change has dropped dramatically (even though it has had the most vertical movement in 2015 of Lohse’s career).

My Twitter exchange with ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick

On Tuesday night I saw a tweet from ESPN’s and Baseball America’s Jerry Crasnick from a few days earlier. I thought the content of the tweet was ridiculous, so I responded. Thus began a healthy dialogue between the two of us.

Twitter 1

Apparently, a Major League Baseball executive is of the opinion that Milwaukee Brewers’ pitchers Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza will not be moved because no team will want to take them on. I vehemently disagreed with that thought.

Twitter 2

He clearly was fascinated by my “giggle” comment which is probably the main reason he responded. If I would have tweeted “This makes me laugh,” odds are this article would not be in existence.

Twitter 3

The only thing Mr. Crasnick and I disagreed about was whether or not Lohse and Garza could be moved. We both agreed that, as of now, they have very limited value and that Milwaukee’s potential return on them would be small. But that’s not what I was arguing about. I wholeheartedly believe that both of them can and will be moved this season. He sided with the executive, by making the strong argument that the market is bare for “aging pitchers with big contracts and bad numbers.” This makes sense, but the MLB executive could easily be attempting to manipulate the trade market. It happens all the time.

Look, I don’t care if Lohse has a 10.00 ERA. I still think the Brewers could move him. At 36 years old, he still has upside. He’s posted an ERA under 3.60 in four consecutive seasons, so what contending team wouldn’t want to take a chance on him? Sure, he has the worst ERA among qualified starters in 2015 and his FIP is almost just as bad, but like I said, there’s still plenty of time for him to turn it around. He’s getting hit for a .311 BABIP, the highest since 2010. He’s also not walking more batters than usual and he’s actually striking out more. Lohse clearly has had a decent amount of bad luck this season. Home runs are an issue, yes, but maybe he needs to go to a more pitcher-friendly park. Safeco? The thought that no team wants to take on some of his $11 million contract is ludicrous. Odds are the Brewers will pay most of it, anyway.

Finding a trade partner for Garza might be a bit more difficult, but it’s still very possible. He still has three years left on his deal after 2015, and is owed a lot of money. But he has even more upside than Lohse as he is just 31. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in a Brewers’ uniform in 2016, but that would probably be the last of him in Milwaukee. If the Brewers want to rebuild, they can’t do it with his contract.

I’m fairly certain Lohse will be traded this season, and I have to think there’s at least a handful of teams already calling general manager Doug Melvin. If he doesn’t get traded, I’ll be surprised, but I’ll make sure to tweet Crasnick and admit he and his source were correct.

There is a market for Lohse and Garza. It’s just up to the Brewers to find it.

Let’s laugh at Kyle Lohse’s stats

Opening Day didn’t exactly go the Milwaukee Brewers way, as they were rocked 10-0 by the Colorado Rockies. I attended the game, and let me tell you, it was no fun. Sure, the couple of beers I had helped quell the pain, but it wasn’t enough. Luckily, today’s game was just 0.6% of the season, so let’s forget about it.

Instead, let’s make light of the situation and laugh at what Kyle Lohse‘s statistics look like.

ERA: 21.60

FIP: 10.26

BABIP: .471

HR/9: 5.40

HR/FB: 28.6%

LOB%: 27.8%

His xFIP sits at 2.46, so I guess we can expect his home runs to normalize. If not, he’ll be a Marco Estrada clone, and none of us want that.

What if Kyle Lohse threw more changeups?

Kyle Lohse has had five pitches in his arsenal throughout his major-league career; a fourseam fastball, a sinker, a slider, a curveball and a changeup. He used the fourseamer heavily for the first few years of his career, but has weaned off it and has almost abandoned it completely. His sinker and slider are the two pitches he trusts the most and therefore uses the most, but he mixes in his curveball and changeup occasionally as well.

Let’s take a look at Lohse’s pitch usage over the last three seasons (according to Brooks Baseball).

2012 2013 2014
Sinker 50.6% 44.8% 39.2%
Slider 23.3% 27.6% 29.6%
Fourseam 2.5% 2.0% 6.4%
Curveball 4.2% 10.3% 11.8%
Changeup 19.2% 15.1% 12.7%

Beginning in 2012, Lohse began to alter how he uses his pitches. He’s become less reliant on the sinker and changeup, and has begun to use his slider and curveball more regularly. And concidentally (but maybe not), his ERA and xFIP have risen in each season since. This could be because of a number of reasons, like his rising age, but there’s one aspect of his repertoire that I want to take an especially close look at.

In terms of pitch values, the changeup has been Lohse’s best pitch. It’s been worth 63.8 runs above average since the beginning of his career in 2002, and registered a 7.5 wCH last season, which was the 11th-highest among qualified pitchers. Lohse caused a swinging strike 8.1% of the time, but that number balloons by 10% against his changeup.

Here’s another chart that illustrates just how superior his changeup was in 2014.

Count Avg ISO XBH Swinging Strikes
382 .143 .095 5 63

He allowed a Logan Schafer-esque isolated power. Pretty darn impressive, right? But yet, Lohse keeps cutting back on it. It’s like he’s beginning to trust it less and less. And that realization led me to an idea. Maybe his changeup is only effective when he uses it at a minimal amount. Maybe if he throws it too much, hitters will pick up on it and use it to their advantage.

To test this theory, I looked at every start Lohse has made over the last two seasons.

Lohse has made 63 starts since 2013, and has thrown his changeup 20 or more times in just eight of those starts (two in 2014). In those eight starts, however, Lohse has an earned run average of 2.73. But as we all know, eight starts is a very small sample size, so in order to prove (or disprove) my theory, I looked at the starts in which he threw 0-10 changeups and 11-19 changeups. I broke the results down in yet another chart.

Changeups Starts ERA
0-10 27 3.83
11-19 28 3.42
20+ 8 2.73

Remember, since these results are only from two seasons, the sample size is too small to put that much weight in it, but it’s still interesting to look at. Plus, ERA is misleading, but calculating Lohse’s FIP would take about six years of my life. In order to fully evaluate his changeup, I would need to look at his other pitch uses, which is something I’ll save for another time. For now, we’ll solely focus on his changeup.

Anyway, from the information above, my original thought was wrong. You can clearly tell that the more Lohse throws his changeup, the more success he has. The difference in effectiveness is pretty large too. He doesn’t have a high velocity fastball, but it’s still (obviously) faster than his changeup (90.5 mph vs. 80.8 mph). Hitters may have a hard time recognizing the difference since both of those pitches are relatively slow.

Lohse has started an ugly trend by leaning on his curveball over his changeup, and I’d like to see him alter that in 2015. I want to see him utilize his changeup on a more consistent basis. I want him to throw it 25+ times in a game. I want him to start hitters out with it, which is something he rarely did last season.

Lohse is (getting) old, and the projection systems don’t like him. Steamer is projecting him to be worth 0.8 WAR with an ERA and FIP over 4.40. My projections aren’t that harsh, but I understand where Steamer is coming from. Maybe using his changeup more is exactly what Lohse needs to give Steamer the finger.

Pitcher projections for the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers

Find my hitter projections for the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers here

Warning: Below is the same opening I used for my hitter projections (lazy is my name), so feel free to skip it and scroll down to the projections.

It’s that time of year again, when projections are being unleashed and the biased trolls of the internet emerge from their caves. I love it.

People say that projections are like throwing darts at a dart board and hoping it sticks where you want it too. Well, if that’s the case, then the dart’s trajectory has been calculated countless of times and the dart board is bigger than the average one. Projection systems, like Steamer and ZiPS, are the most accurate darts we currently have at our disposable. So many components (i.e. park factors, age, injury history, talent) play into their forecasts that it’s asinine not to put at least a little merit in them.

With that being said, my projections are not based on a mathematical model. My brain doesn’t possess the functionality it requires to build one or to even interpret simple mathematical equations. For someone who is so invested in sabermetrics, I don’t know a lick of math. So, there’s my warning about my projections.

On the other hand, my projections are more than just guess work. I’ve poured over each player’s statistical history, taken injuries and age into account, looked at splits, went over other projection systems and basically every other thing I could possibly do to make sure my projections were well-informed.

Here are my pitcher projections for the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers (subject to change before the season commences).

Position Name ERA FIP xFIP SIERA HR K% BB% GB% WAR
SP Yovani Gallardo 3.94 4.06 3.70 3.72 23 17.1% 7.8% 52.0% 1.5
SP Kyle Lohse 3.72 3.91 4.11 4.12 24 14.9% 4.3% 39.8% 1.9
SP Matt Garza 3.39 3.64 3.99 3.76 14 21.2% 6.6% 42.5% 2.0
SP Wily Peralta 4.01 4.09 3.81 3.99 23 20.0% 8.5% 52.6% 1.6
SP Mike Fiers 3.09 3.33 3.29 3.21 15 26.2% 7.0% 34.0% 3.1
SP Will Smith 3.29 3.34 3.15 2.65 8 31.3% 9.2% 45.1% 0.6
RP Jeremy Jeffress 2.62 3.11 3.00 2.59 4 21.9% 9.6% 57.4% 1.0
RP Brandon Kintzler 3.91 4.34 3.83 3.75 7 15.4% 7.7% 57.2% -0.5
RP Jonathan Broxton 3.55 3.49 3.72 3.80 6 20.0% 6.9% 47.3% 0.4
RP Rob Wooten 4.08 3.32 3.84 3.43 3 17.6% 6.1% 48.1% 0.2
RP Jim Henderson 3.45 3.70 2.99 2.79 5 27.1% 9.2% 34.0% 0.1
RP Tyler Thornburg 4.11 3.86 4.29 4.30 3 19.2% 8.5% 36.2% 0.0
RP Jimmy Nelson 4.08 4.17 3.80 3.91 10 19.7% 8.3% 50.7% -0.1
3.63 3.72 3.66 3.54 145 20.9% 7.7% 45.9% 11.7

Let’s start by comparing my projections to last season’s statistics. As a team, the Brewers had a 3.67 team ERA, 3.89 FIP and 3.65 FIP, equaling 11 wins. My projections have them outperforming last year, but not by much (11.5 WAR). Much of this is due to my belief in Mike Fiers and Jeremy Jeffress breaking out.

As far as the rotation goes, I foresee home runs being a big issue (some of Jimmy Nelson’s projected home runs are as a starter), like it was in 2014. Kyle Lohse will struggle with keeping the ball in the yard (fastball velocity has gone down in three straight seasons) and same goes for Yovani Gallardo who has seen his HR/FB ratio increase in back-to-back seasons (I still think the Brewers would be wise to trade him). Wily Peralta had a 3.53 ERA but a 4.11 FIP in ’14, and his high FIP is why I see his ERA going back up. I’m putting a lot of faith in Garza this year, as I think he’ll be the second-best pitcher in Milwaukee’s rotation. He just needs to stay healthy.

Now for the bullpen. Jeffress is going to kill it, and Will Smith’s strikeout rate will be through the roof. I like Rob Wooten a lot as a reliever, but his FIP has always outperformed his ERA, meaning he might just be one of those players with a better FIP than ERA. Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg are huge question marks health wise, so as soon as I know more about their ability to throw a ball without pain, my projections may change.

Overall, Brewers’ pitchers will be right around league average in 2015, and that’s with Fiers becoming an ace. If I’m wrong about that, the rotation could/will be a whole different story.

If you have any questions about my projections, please comment or find me on Twitter