Marlins to Face Kyle Lohse on Opening DayBy
On Wednesday night in Miami, the Marlins will open the 2012 season against the St. Louis Cardinals, to much anticipation and excitement. The game is scheduled to be nationally broadcasted on ESPN and will serve as the inauguration of new Marlins Park. Josh Johnson has been named the Marlins starter, but because the Cardinals’ ace Chris Carpenter is starting the season on the DL, on the mound for the reigning World Series champs will be the 33-year old Kyle Lohse.
In order for Marlins fans to be fully prepared for the righty come Wednesday night, here’s a scouting report with what’s to be expected from Lohse.
Peripherals and Batted Ball
Lohse has never been a high-strikeout type of pitcher, fanning an average of only 5.59 batters per 9 innings throughout his career, well below the league average K/9 of 7.13. His lack of strikeouts is likely the result of his inability to induce swings on pitches outside the strike zone (O-swing of only 25.7%) and opponent’s high contact rate (85.3%). However, Lohse has been able to control his pitches quite well, walking only 2.69 per 9 innings, and last season walking only 2.01 per 9 innings, an impressive feat.
Lohse allows slightly more fly balls and line drives than average, and his career Groundball rate (GB%) of 41.8% is on the low side. But despite giving up a large number of balls in the air, Lohse has been relatively successful due to his ability to suppress homeruns, as evidenced by his HR/FB rate of 7.25% over the last few years.
ZiPS projections predict much of the same for Lohse in 2012, although they expect his extremely low BB/9 and HR/FB rates in 2011 (of 2.01 and 7.2%, respectively) to regress towards his career averages.
Marlins batters will see a mixture of sinkers, sliders, change-ups, and the occasional curveball from Lohse on Wednesday.
The change-up is by far the best of the group, generating 10.4 runs above average in 2011, despite only being thrown 19.1% of the time. Lohse’s sinker is the most voluminous of the group, as he goes to the pitch in 54.9% of all situations, but it is not necessarily his most effective pitch; in 2011 the sinker accounted for -2.9 runs below average. The slider is another decent pitch, worth 3.9 runs above average, while being thrown about 16% of the time. Hitters may also see one of Lohse’s curveballs, a pitch he only throws about on about 6% of occasions, and was almost exactly average last year (-.1 runs).
Facing Lohse’s lack of overpowering and strikeout-inducing stuff, Marlins batters should be able to put the ball in play regularly, but also should not expect any free passes. Over the past few years Lohse has been a decent pitcher, but nothing exceptional (2.5 fWAR in 2011), and given that teams usually start Opening Day against the opponent’s “ace” pitcher, facing Lohse is a great opportunity for the Marlins to jumpstart their offensive production.