Cravy to start Friday; Lohse to 'pen
Brewers considering their options with veteran right-hander
MILWAUKEE -- With the organization in rebuilding mode, the Brewers decided it was time to remove slumping veteran Kyle Lohse from the starting rotation.
Lohse is 5-13 with a 6.31 ERA in the final year of his contract. He will be replaced beginning Friday night against the Cardinals by 26-year-old right-hander Tyler Cravy, the Brewers' No. 26 prospect and one of the young pitchers who figures to compete in next year's starting rotation. Lohse will work out of the bullpen for now, though history suggests his days with Milwaukee are numbered.
"You don't want it to happen like this," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "But it was the time we thought it had to be done."
Lohse signed a three-year, $33 million contract in March 2013 and was the Brewers' most valuable pitcher during the first two seasons of the deal, going 24-19 with a 3.45 ERA, a .252 opponents' average and 5.7 wins above replacement, per the Baseball-Reference.com measure. He was Milwaukee's 2015 Opening Day starter, but he never found a foothold. Lohse's 1.468 WHIP is his highest in a healthy season since 2006 with the Twins, which was also the last time he was removed from a rotation.
Indications on Thursday were that Lohse's move to the Brewers' bullpen could be temporary.
"That's where I'll be residing for the time being, and we'll just kind of see what options there are, and we'll go from there," Lohse said. "But [the Brewers have] been good to me, stuck through a pretty tough year and gave me the opportunity to go out there every five days until now. It didn't work out."
Among the possibilities, the Brewers could:
• Seek a trade. Lohse would have to clear waivers first, but the combination of his struggles and his significant salary (he's still due about $3.5 million) make that a possibility. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin did have some discussions about Lohse with other teams ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but nothing materialized.
• Release him. Milwaukee has done this before with veteran pitchers at the end of multiyear deals, including Jeff Suppan in 2010 and Randy Wolf in '12. Suppan subsequently hooked on with the Cardinals and Wolf with the Orioles. In those instances, as with Lohse, the Brewers would be on the hook for all of Lohse's remaining salary except for a prorated portion of the league minimum.
• Keep him. Theoretically, Lohse could remain as a high-priced long reliever.
Lohse, 36, tried everything to fix what ailed him this season. His frustration peaked in his most recent start against the Cubs, during which he felt he executed the game plan and the vast majority of his 90 pitches, but he exited after 4 1/3 innings, having allowed four earned runs on nine hits, including his 25th home run. Lohse surrendered at least one homer in 19 of his 22 starts.
"I can go home with my head up, because I know I tried everything I could to get right," Lohse said. "I feel like I handled it as well as I could. There were some tough days in there, tough starts, days where you just kind of shake your head and go, 'What happened out there?' I've been through a lot in my 15 seasons, seen a lot. I've seen it happen to other guys."
Has he given any thought to where his career will go beyond this season?
"You're human, so you do," said Lohse, who turns 37 on Oct. 4. "Obviously, I'm not ready to hang it up yet. The stuff's still there, [the problem was] just the execution or whatever it was this year. I don't know. I don't believe you can have that much bad luck, but it felt like it."