Kyle Lohse is scheduled to start tomorrow against Rockies, making his Brewers debut just three days after agreeing to a three-year contract.
Normally pitchers ramp up slowly during spring training, building up arm strength with each start, but Lohse will only have time to make one Cactus League appearance before the season begins. However, while Scott Boras tried to find him work Lohse was throwing bullpen sessions and simulated games at the agent’s training complex, so he’s more or less fully stretched out.
Milwaukee forfeited the No. 17 pick in the draft to sign Lohse and will pay him $4 million this season, $11 million in each of 2014 and 2015, and $7 million in deferred payments from 2016-2018.
The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.
Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.
His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.
The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.