The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

May 9, 2006

Lohse pitching too poorly to pull

Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire are patient men.

For more than two years, they’ve waited for Kyle Lohse to live up to what he did down the stretch in 2003.

It’s increasingly difficult to believe it now, but it’s true. In August and September of 2003 — in the one real pennant race the Twins experienced during their run of divisional titles — Lohse went 8-2 with a 3.67 ERA, striking out 37 men while walking just 15.

That winter the Twins let Kenny Rogers walk and dealt away Eric Milton — and still felt confident in their starting pitching, because they had Johan Santana and Lohse ready to take over the front of the rotation.

Santana did so; Lohse did not.

At best, Lohse has been a mediocre, if well-paid, back-of-the-rotation innings-eater. Right now, he’s worse.

Friday’s gopher-ball parade left Lohse with a 9.71 ERA for the season. His batting average allowed is .346. That’s two points higher than Ted Williams’ lifetime average. He’s walked almost as many as he’s struck out.

As a fan of the Twins and student of the game, I’ve pulled the plug. I’ve declared a personal Kyle Lohse boycott. I will no longer journey to the Dome for a Lohse start.

I’ve done this before. Last year it was Joe Mays. In 2003, Rick Reed. In both cases, each was out of the rotation within a week or so.

Ryan and Gardenhire have their limits also, and history suggests their limits are fairly close to mine.

Logic suggests that their patience will continue.

Why would they stick with him?

The answer may lie in a different question: If the Twins pull Lohse from the rotation this week, what do they do with him?

He would be an awfully pricey long reliever. And as such, he’s not likely to fetch much in a trade.

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