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3 Reasons Kyle Lohse Is MLB's Most Underappreciated Pitcher in 2012

Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012, at 8:47 AM

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse has put together a very impressive season, but few outside of St. Louis seem to have even noticed.

When Kyle Lohse was the team's opening day 2012 starter, a lot was expected of him. With Adam wainwright returning from Tommy John surgery, Chris Carpenter out with nerve issues and Lance Lynn making his debut as a starter, Lohse was expected to be an anchor to the team's rotation.

His time in St. Louis has had its ups and downs, but since the beginning of 2011 he has been a real asset.

In Lohse's first season with the Cardinals he went 15-6. His 3.78 ERA was, at least at the time, the best of his career.

Forearm issues then began to plague him, making for lackluster 2009 and 2010 performances where he went a combined 10-18.

Since his health issues were lined out, however, he has been better than at any point in his career. In 2011 and 2012, he has a combined 28-10 record. That is a dramatic difference that deserves recognition.

So far in 2012, Lohse has the third best ERA in the NL (2.64), is tied for fifth in WHIP (1.08), sixth in wins (14) and ranks eighth in IP (174.0). He also leads the league in outs in the air with 211.

Lohse has the best win percentage in the NL (.875). Equally as important as his 14 wins this year is the fact that he has been hit with only two losses in his 27 starts to date.

These numbers may not all be the best in the league, but definitely deserve more attention than he has gotten.

So, why is he not being noticed?

Not a flashy pitcher

Lohse is not a strikeout pitcher like Cliff Lee or Stephen Strasburg. He's not the most animated or exciting to watch.

What he does do is consistently get the job done.

Sure, strikeouts are fun to watch, but if you can get a batter out in two pitches with a popout instead of a five or more pitch strikeout, then more power to him. The fewer pitches per batter translates into a very important fact--more innings pitched.

He's never been a big name

He's been solid, but he's never been a big headline grabber.

We see guys like Strasburg, Jered Weaver and Felix Hernandez in the headlines every fifth day, but that's not the case with Lohse.

While his individual outings might not be big news to some, his season is certainly big news.

His comeback over the past two seasons has been nothing short of monumental. To go from being a sub-.500 pitcher to leading the league in winning percentage is a huge accomplishment.

Many other pitchers have been amazing

Another reason we haven't seen him in the headlines this year is because so many other worthy pitching stories have come along.

From numerous no-hitters, perfect games and success stories like R. A. Dickey, there have been a lot of pitchers in the news in a big way.

Lohse, on the other hand, has done what he does best--come out under the radar, put together good outings and wait five days. Lather, rinse, repeat is the best way to explain Kyle Lohse in 2012.

Double-edged sword for Cardinals fans

There is a potential downside to the success Lohse has seen this season. With free agency looming just around the corner, he is primed and ready for what will likely be the best contract of his career.

With two solid, healthy seasons in his rear view mirror, he and his agent, Scott Boras, will likely be looking to get him exactly what he has earned.

While he may like to stay in St. Louis, the fact that the Cardinals just re-signed Jake Westbrook could be viewed as a concession to the fact that Lohse will be gone to free agency.

Regardless of where he is headed, Cardinals fans have a lot to be thankful for in Kyle Lohse.

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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