Today the Pittsburgh Pirates announced via Twitter that they have acquired LHP Kyle Lobstein from the Detroit Tigers for cash considerations.
Lobstein is a 26-year old left handed pitcher who has spent parts of the last two seasons with the Tigers. Lobstein has made 17 starts over that time as well as appeared in three games in a relief capacity. He has posted a 5.33 ERA over that span, with a 1.59 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
At first glance, Lobstein’s performance thus far can be considered underwhelming. As was the case with recent acquisition Jon Niese, the Pirates front office is likely enamored with Lobstein’s ability to produce groundballs. A quick glance at Pitch F/X data shows that Lobstein throws relies on a sinking fastball, throwing it 38.2 percent of the time. That pitch is good for a 61.3 percent groundball rate.
At this point, it is unclear if the acquisition is meant to bolster the starting pitching or to provide another long/short relief option in the vein of the recent Juan Nicasio signing. At first blush it would seem as if Lobstein profiles as a depth option to replace injured pitchers Brandon Cumpton and Casey Sadler. both were often seen as the “first option” from the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians for spot starts and injury depth.
It remains to be seen if Pirates general manager Neal Huntington will look to stand pat in his pursuit of starting pitching. During the 2015 MLB Winter Meetings, the Pirates were strongly linked to left-handed starting pitcher Scott Kazmir. That possibility has seemingly dissipated, with the Vogelsong and Lobstein acquisitions seemingly reinforcing that notion.