Detroit Tigers’ Kyle Lobstein Has Been Unsung Hero In 2015
When the time comes for Justin Verlander to return to the Detroit Tigers, an unfortunate byproduct of his comeback will be the end of Kyle Lobstein’s tenure in the starting rotation.
Yes, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would prefer Lobstein to Verlander, but it would be just as difficult to find someone who has not been impressed by the Tigers’ young left-hander.
The Detroit faithful became familiar with Lobstein when he was thrust into the AL Central pennant chase in 2014. In the wake of an injury to Anibal Sanchez, the 25 year-old found himself as the lesser of several evils, at the back of a star-studded rotation.
Amongst fellow youthful starters such as Robbie Ray, and Buck Farmer, Lobstein earned the opportunity to pitch for the major league club, and gave Brad Ausmus many valuable innings.
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While he did struggle in several outings, such as a 12-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins where he only lasted 4 2/3 and allowed six earned runs on seven hits, he did play a pivotal role in the Tigers’ fifth straight AL Central crown.
From August 28, to September 13th, Detroit was 4-0 in Lobstein’s starts. In those starts, he allowed just eight earned runs, and was especially impressive in a 4-2 Tigers win against Cleveland, where he struck out 10.
Those who were impressed by in 2014 have to be dazzled now. In a rotation that features David Price, Sanchez, Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene, it is not hard to argue that Lobstein has been the most consistent starter.
In fact, heading into an important series with the Kansas City Royals, Lobstein had the lowest ERA on the staff. In five starts to begin 2015, the left-hander is 3-2, with a 3.00 ERA, 15 strikeouts, and a 1.30 WHIP.
Beyond that, he has only allowed more than three runs just once this season, and he was spectacular in his most recent start. Standing between the Chicago White Sox and a series sweep, Lobstein went 7 2/3, and allowed no earned runs.
It was the latest in a string of starts where Lobstein has continued to prove his value.
However, despite his outstanding performance, Lobstein, and the Tigers could be in an uncomfortable position once that day comes where Verlander is ready to throw.
While the rotation will be full, the bullpen will be equally hard to crack, no matter how well the youngster throws. Lobstein would be best-suited in a role as a long reliever, but that role is filled by another left-hander, Tom Gorzelanny.
Fortunately, Lobstein will be on the Tigers’ roster at the end of the 2015 campaign when September call-ups take place, and he deserves to be. Because when the Tigers look back at their 2015 season, Kyle Lobstein could be the unsung hero that helped make the difference that earned Detroit another AL Central title.