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Lohse: Starter or Reliever

By LS Murphy

Kyle Lohse started last night’s game against the Astros with something to prove; that he deserved to be the fourth starter once the St. Louis Cardinals begin their run to the World Series.

The first inning started off rough with Lohse giving up a solo homerun to Miguel Tejada but his teammates had already given him a three run cushion. He settled in and pitched like the Lohse of old until he appeared to tire a bit in the bottom of the fifth.

Blum doubled to start the inning for the Astros. After Pence lined out to second, Lohse issued his only walk of the night to Matsui. Quintero’s single brought in Blum for the RBI. Lohse got out of the jam by striking out Boone and Bourn with runners on the bags.

Surprisingly, LaRussa sent Lohse out for the sixth. The Cards had a comfortable lead at this point and, while it appeared his night was done after the fifth, Tony showed his faith as he always does and put Lohse out there for one more inning. Lohse’s only mistake in the sixth was to Berkman, who hit his twenty-third bomb of the year. Another strike out and a ground out ended the inning and Lohse made his best start in the second half of the season. And his most telling.

Kyle Lohse showed a return to his 2008 form last night. He showed the fans, the manager, and the pitching coach that his ailments are over. He is ready to take his spot in the starting rotation.
The rest of the season will show us where he stands and where John Smoltz stands. One of them will have to make the move to the bullpen. LaRussa and Duncan need to make that decision quickly. Neither Smoltz nor Lohse has pitched back-to-back days and one of them needs to get conditioned for the relief role.

For the best chance at a World Series, LaRussa should put Lohse back into the starting rotation and move Smoltz into the bullpen. It's the most logical conclusion. Smoltz is more valuable in the bullpen where his leadership and experience is valuable. Kyle Lohse deserves to start. Either way, LaRussa needs to make a decision quickly so the pitchers can adjust to their roles and avoid the inevitable injury that comes with lack of preparation.

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Cardinals Mix blog featured writers LS Murphy,Brian F. Logush
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