Every team needs a spark at the end of Spring Training.
That spark can be ignited by a player returning from injury in time for opening day or the acquisition of a new player; this spark can provide momentum into the regular season.
This week there has been new life in the Brewers clubhouse, as the Crew added one of the best free agent pitchers of 2013. And in my opinion, the timing couldn’t have been any better. Mark Rogers is slated to start the season on the disabled list and Michael Fiers, Chris Narveson, and Wily Peralta have been inconsistent this spring. By adding Kyle Lohse, Milwaukee gained an experienced, innings-eater, who stabilizes the front end of the rotation.
Lohse has arguably been the best pitcher in National League Central over the past two seasons as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. In 2013, Kyle posted a 16-3 record with a career-low ERA of 2.86. Lohse pitched 211.0 innings and struck out 143 batters while only walking 38.
So what does this mean for the NL Central?
Before the signing, the Brewers were relying heavily on four starters with a combined 815.2 innings pitched in the major leagues, Kyle Lohse has 1973.0 career IP by himself. Lohse adds valuable experience to a team that was projected by many to finish behind the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals in their division. Not only did Milwaukee gain a front-line starting pitcher, but they also took him from their division rivals. And the Cardinals may be without Chris Carpenter for all of 2013.
Here are key roster moves made by teams in the NL Central:
Additions- Burke Badenhopp, Tom Gorzelanny, Mike Gonzalez, Kyle Lohse
Departures- Shaun Marcum, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras, Kameron Loe
St. Louis Cardinals
Additions- Ty Wigginton, Randy Choate, Ronny Cedeno
Departures- Kyle Lohse
Additions- Shin Soo Choo, Jason Donald
Departures- Drew Stubbs, Ryan Madson, Scott Rolen
Additions- Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano, Mark Melancon
Departures- Joel Hanrahan, Kevin Correia, Rod Barajas
Additions- Edwin Jackson, Scott Baker, Carlos Villanueva, Nate Schierholtz, Kyuji Fujikawa
Departures- Bryan LaHair
This marks a relatively quiet offseason for the NL Central besides the Reds acquiring Shin-Soo Choo in a 3-way deal with Arizona and Cleveland. And because of this, the Brewers may have gained an upper hand on the division with the signing of Kyle Lohse. It may not make them the clear cut front-runners, but it allows them to start the season with a clearer outlook on their pitching staff and it provides the spring training spark the team needs to start the season strong.