Kyle Lohse left his start against the Cubs on Wednesday after he aggravated a right ankle sprain and Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that the Brewers will skip his next turn in the rotation in order to give him some rest.
Lohse originally injured the ankle on August 2 against the Cardinals. He has made two starts since, but the discomfort has lingered. With scheduled off-days next Monday and Thursday, the Brewers have the luxury of giving him a break without having to add another starter. Matt Garza is also sidelined right now with a rib cage strain and just resumed playing catch yesterday. Fortunately, Mike Fiers has filled in brilliantly by allowing one run in 14 innings over his first two starts. He struck out 14 batters Thursday against the Cubs.
Lohse, 35, has posted a 3.49 ERA and 114/34 K/BB ratio over 159 2/3 innings this season. The Brewers came back to beat the Dodgers 6-3 last night and currently sit at 68-55 on the year, two games ahead of the Cardinals and 3 1/2 games ahead of the Pirates in the National League Central.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.