The Detroit Tigers expected Justin Verlander to only miss one start, two at the most. Here we are just over a month into the season, and we have not seen Verlander take the field yet in a game that matters. In his place, the young Kyle Lobstein has stepped in and brought some stability to a Tigers rotation that has lacked it for the past week or so.
Lobstein was expected to start the season down in Toledo so that he would be starting every fifth day instead of sitting in the Tigers bullpen not knowing when he would get the chance to pitch next. This type of uncertainty can hinder the development of a 25-year old player that only has 11 major league starts under his belt. Verlander’s unfortunate injury gave Lobstein the chance to go out and prove that he belongs with the big club, despite the young age.
With each start that he makes, Lobstein continues to see his numbers improve. In each start that Lobstein has made this season, he has improved on his innings pitched. He went five innings in his first start, an 8-5 win over the Cleveland Indians, then followed that up with 6 IP, 7 IP, 7.1 IP, and yesterday’s 7.2 IP. Following yesterday’s game, Lobstein’s ERA sits at a very respectable 3.00 in 33.1 total IP. Lobstein currently owns a 3-2 record which is scores above reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (0-5) and former Cy Young winner CC Sabathia (0-5).
Yesterday’s gem was Lobstein’s finest performance in a Tigers uniform in his career. Out of the 7+ innings he pitched, he was only in real trouble in one of the innings, the fourth, where he was faced with a bases loaded situation. He was able to escape the inning with minimal damage by giving up the one unearned run, Chicago’s only run of the day. In all, Lobstein was able to strike out three and induce 17 ground balls to keep what could be a potent Chicago White Sox lineup limited to only one run.
Two Tigers left-handers since Kenny Rogers have gone at least 7 innings in 3 straight outings. One is David Price. The other is Lobstein.
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) May 7, 2015
It was in yesterday’s game that Lobstein has cemented himself on this Tigers team. Though he will most likely not be part of the rotation once Verlander is game-ready, he will likely assume the role of long reliever in the Tigers bullpen. Right now, Brad Ausmus is using Blaine Hardy in that role primarily. Lobstein will give Aumus an option out of the bullpen that will instill confidence in a fan base that is tired of bullpen problems.
Verlander just began a throwing program to come back from injury. Until he’s back, Lobstein will continue to make starts in his place, and can further increase his chances of remaining with the big club when Verlander is ready to go.
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