This is an angle I was not expecting to take when I first heard the news that Derek Lowe was traded to the Cleveland Indians. All I knew about him was his great year with Boston, as well as the fact that he led the NL in losses this past season with 17.
Factor in a 5.05 ERA and his age (he will be 39 next year) and I was wondering what they saw in him. Instead of complaining about why he got another pitcher who seemed in line with Fausto Carmona this past season, I took a closer look at Lowe's numbers.
First off, he does not end up on the disabled list. Nothing stops him from pitching a full season with his team. In fact, his lowest innings pitched count in the 10 seasons he has been a starter is 182.2. Only Masterson and Carmona were above that this season.
As great a bullpen as the Indians may have, they do need someone for the back end of the rotation so the bullpen does not get exhausted down the stretch, and that is precisely the role that Lowe takes.
On top of that, the Indians only have to pay $5 million of Lowe's deal. A pitcher in his state for $15 million is ridiculous, but $5 million is a solid price given the going rate for pitchers today.
What about his 9-17 record and 5.05 ERA, though? Much of that is due to a terrible September, when he went 0-5 with an 8.75 ERA. Take that out and he had the kind of statline you would expect from a back-end rotation pitcher.
More importantly, Lowe has gotten himself out of this position before. He had a 5.42 ERA in his last season with Boston and knocked it down nearly two points with the Dodgers the following season.
Do some of his stats concern me as an Indians fan? Absolutely. He allows over a hit an inning, allowing 10 per nine innings in 2011, and an ERA of 75+ was the worst of his career, making it look like he does not have much left in the tank.
Still, we have to remember that he was not acquired to be a dominant strikeout master. He was picked up to hold the fort for 6-7 innings a night and give the lineup a chance to win the game with their bats. That's something I'll trust Lowe to do over Mitch Talbot or the young guns right now.