The key element to the Detroit Tigers' success in 2016 was always going to be good health. So far, it has been a rocky start in spring camp. With Anibal Sanchez, Daniel Norris and Alex Wilson all ailing to one degree or another, general manager Al Avila is apparently still considering adding a veteran arm to bolster the pitching staff.
While the Tigers boast better support for their starting rotation than in years past, none of the trio of Shane Greene, Matt Boyd and Michael Fulmer has much experience at the major league level. Instead, the Tigers are reportedly considering free agent starter Kyle Lohse as a potential backup plan.
Tigers, orioles, reds among teams showing interest in kyle lohse. Looking for "right fit." at least o's made offer.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 18, 2016
Lohse is a veteran of the Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, and most recently, the Milwaukee Brewers. The 37-year-old ground ball artist is coming off a dreadful year with the Brewers. The righthander tossed 152 1/3 innings with a 5.85 ERA and 5.17 FIP in 2015.
Lohse has seen a gradual decline in his ground ball rate in recent years, while becoming more susceptible to the long ball. Last season saw his home run rate spike to 1.71 per nine innings en route to a 5-13 record.
Still, Lohse is only a year removed from the best stretch of his career. Over four years, from 2011 to 2014, he won 54 games. In that period, split between St. Louis and Milwaukee, his ERA never rose above 3.54.
As a free agent this close to the start of the regular season, Lohse would presumably cost the Tigers little to acquire. He's certainly still capable of rebounding and providing a spot start here or there, but at this point it's hard to imagine him surviving very long as a fifth starter. Also at issue is the roster spot required, and whether Lohse would be amenable to a minor league deal.
Either way, Avila continues to leave no stone unturned in his emphasis on building the team's depth.