Lohse Makes the Brewers a Legitimate Contender in the NL Central

Kyle+Lohse+Milwaukee+Brewers+v+St+Louis+Cardinals+31xErHcCbgilThe final free agent domino finally fell on Monday as Kyle Lohse and his agent Scott Boras were finally able to get a deal done, sending the right-hander to Milwaukee to pitch for the Brewers. Lohse and Boras were holding out in hopes of garnering a deal worth $15 million a year or more and it appears they have finally settled, taking 3 years and $33 million from Milwaukee. It’s a rather team-friendly deal in a market that cannibalized itself this winter over quality starting pitchers but it does come with the dreaded loss of a draft pick to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Lohse should be well worth that price though, especially if he can make good on his performance in 2012, which was the finest season of his career. The 34-year-old righty went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 211 innings. Even if Lohse can’t repeat on his 2012 season (which is something that’s likely to happen), he should still be able to throw between 180-200 effective innings while giving his team a chance to win more often than not. It also helps that Lohse is staying in the NL Central, where he seems to be comfortable.

The Lohse acquisition also gives Milwaukee an enviable amount of rotational depth for the foreseeable future. Ace Yovani Gallardo is locked up until 2015 should the Brewers choose to make the smart choice to exercise his $13 million dollar option when the time comes and he’s just entering his prime seasons. Young arms Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, and the electric Wily Peralta are all still on their rookie deals. Chris Narveson is floating around somewhere and I haven’t even mentioned Hiram Burgos. Burgos was nearly unhittable for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, throwing big innings in the final against the Dominican Republic. Adding Lohse to that mix gives the Brewers’ rotation a veteran to help guide the youngsters, one who can teach them the in’s and out’s of pitching.

Milwaukee has a potent offense locked down for the next couple of years as well. A year ago the Brew Crew ranked 1st in the National League in runs scored thanks to an attack powered by Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez and Aramis Ramirez. All four of those foundational pieces are back as are Norichika Aoki, a highly skilled outfielder in all facets of the game, and Rickie Weeks in supporting roles.

What remains to be seen is if all these pieces fit well enough together to topple the Reds and Cardinals over the next couple of years. If the pieces of the equation don’t exactly add up, that’s bad news for Milwaukee because this roster is what the franchise is committed to the next couple of seasons. The farm system in Milwaukee has produced plenty of talent over the past couple of years but it appears to need some time to restock. Most of Milwaukee’s top tier talent reached the big leagues a year ago and most of what remains is in the lower levels of the system.

I’m guessing that these parts should all fit together quite nicely, especially if Ryan Braun is able to stay out of trouble with Major League Baseball over the Biogenesis case. The offense should thump once again which means it’s all up to the pitching staff. The Brewers started to hum during the 2nd half last year once they sorted out their rotation. With Lohse in tow look for Milwaukee to surprise in the suddenly deep NL Central.



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