The Brewers have signed the last remaining major free agent, getting starter Kyle Lohse for $33 million over 3 years. And I just finished previewing the NL Central, too. How does this mess up these predictions?
Not too terribly, actually. I originally had them as a fourth-place, just below .500 team. Now? I guess I’d put them at just over .500, in the same camp as the Pirates. Maybe with some good luck, they can make the NL Central a three-way race.
Lohse had a career-year in 2012, posting bests in ERA (2.86), Fielding Independent Pitching (3.51), K/9 (6.10), BB/9 (1.62), innings (211), and WAR (3.6, Fangraphs). That’s a little worrisome for a 34-year old pitcher, but I think he has at least one more season in him as a solid number two or three starter. I’m a little more skeptical of how his 2014 and 2015 seasons will be, but for a Brewers team that had Marco Estrada as their number two yesterday, it’s hard to argue this isn’t an improvement for 2013. And $11 million per year doesn’t seem like a wild overpay.
Like I said yesterday, the Brewers will almost certainly post a strong line-up again, barring injuries. They led the league in runs scored last year (776, 11 above second place St. Louis), which leaves them room to be good even if they fall off. Anything that helps them improve on their 733 runs allowed (thirteenth in the NL) is good. Losing a draft pick, especially to a rival in St. Louis, will hurt with their rather thin farm system. However, the Brewers as they are currently constructed are still in a win-now mode. If I thought they were an 81-win team yesterday, this would put them in the neighborhood of 84-86 wins, and from there, it’s just a few breaks to be in contention.
Still, I’m standing by my predictions from yesterday. I think this makes Milwaukee a just-over .500 team, and I’ll still bet on the Pirates’ upside to top that. If anything, this will take wins away from the Rangers or Indians in my predictions (those are where I had been predicting him to land). Still, I do think it’s a good, sensible move for the Brewers to make.