With the myriad of struggles in the Brewers’ starting rotation, right-hander Kyle Lohse has been the only beacon of hope. He’s the only starter in Milwaukee with an ERA under 4.00, and his 3.65 FIP also leads the team by roughly a half-run.
The last thing this team needs is an injured Kyle Lohse, but the Brewers announced this afternoon that Lohse will miss his next start with irritation and tightness in his elbow. Right-hander Mike Fiers will receive the spot start. Fiers hasn’t allowed a run in his last three appearances out of the bullpen, giving him 4.1 consecutive scoreless innings.
Ron Roenicke downplayed the injury prior to the game:
“He could go out and pitch,” Roenicke said. “But because he didn’t have a Spring Training, we would rather try to get rid of this, so we’re going to bump him a start.”
Elbow injuries are nothing to treat lightly, though. A little irritation is almost always an indicator of something more serious, so while it will obviously be a storyline to watch until Lohse returns to the rotation, it’s something that fans should diligently follow for the next couple months. On the more optimistic side, Lohse has experienced discomfort for the past two or three starts and his velocity hasn’t suffered — which could mean the irritation/tightness/discomfort really is minimal.
For now, the injury means Hiram Burgos will remain in the rotation for at least one additional start. Fiers could eventually replace him — especially if Burgos struggles against the Twins next week — but Fiers is the only potential replacement on the horizon. Tyler Thornburg and Johnny Hellweg are not ready to make the jump to the big-league rotation, and lefty Chris Narveson remains on the disabled list with a finger injury.
The Brewers have had maddening issues in the starting rotation, and the Lohse injury stings like salt in a large wound. If the worst-case scenario happens and Lohse is forced to miss an extended period of time with an elbow injury, the Brewers could find themselves in a really bad spot this summer. They could anyway, considering the team now sits nine games under .500 with a -36 run differential, but removing one of the key cogs in an already-disappointing rotation could spell disaster for the club.
It’s not necessarily time to press the panic button. Owner Mark Attanasio visited the Brewers’ broadcast booth on Wednesday afternoon and reminded everyone the team had an identical record at this time last year and still made a serious run at the second Wild Card spot. The Brewers have almost three-fourths of the season remaining to right the ship. Still, coming into Wednesday’s finale against the Dodgers, the team had a 3.1% chance to reach the postseason (according to Baseball Prospectus), and that razor-thin margin seems even smaller if Kyle Lohse is removed from the starting rotation for an extended period of time.