A token of respect
Tonight’s seventh and eighth innings made something clear, if it hadn’t been clear already. In the eyes of the Cardinals’ field staff, Kyle Lohse has established himself as a frontline guy.
Of course, the party line is always, ‘Whoever is starting today is the No. 1 starter.’ And, yeah, you definitely want your starters thinking that way. But the way that TLR and Duncan actually handle their starters tells another story.
Most of the time, a TLR/DD starter will be lifted when he gets into trouble in the late innings. After all, these are the guys who are practically synonymous with bullpen specialization. Even some good starters, even some hot starters, receive this treatment more often than not.
Witness somebody like Wellemeyer in the first two months of this year, when he was dealing — they chose to err on the side of getting him out too early, rather than too late, in a winning game.
But once in a while, a guy earns lots of rope. He gets the chance to try to finish a game when a CG is within sight. He gets the chance to work out of trouble. Matt Morris was in that category. Woody Williams at times was in that category. Obviously Chris Carpenter is in it. By the end of last year, Adam Wainwright earned his way into it.
Now it appears Kyle Lohse may be in that group. Lohse got in trouble in the seventh in a close game — and the bullpen never stirred. He got into even more trouble in the eighth, with his pitch count over 100, and stayed in even when the tying run scored and the go-ahead run got on base.
One common TLR refrain when he lifts a pitcher who was going well is, “I wasn’t going to let him be the losing pitcher.” That is, he’s pitched so well it would be unfair if he took the loss. Well, Lohse has now apparently crossed over into the category where he’s the horse, and it’s his game.
The point of this, by the way, is not for me to make a value judgment. I’m not suggesting that staying with Lohse was the right move or the wrong one. Just making an observation that I suspect will hold true as the weeks go forward. They trust him now. For the time being, Lohse is Their Guy.