MLBTradeRumors is introducing a new series in which two comparable free agents are analyzed side by side. Each post will conclude with a reader vote on the value of the two players.
Starting pitching is always at a premium and this offseason will be no different. Two of the very best starters on the free market are Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse, who ranked fourth and tenth on Tim’s Top 50 Free Agents List, respectively. Both right-handers pitched for playoff teams this season and have shown durability in recent years, but is one more desirable than the other?
Sanchez, 28, pitched to a 3.86 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 this season, including a 3.74 ERA in 12 starts following his trade from the Marlins to the Tigers. He’s thrown at least 190 innings in each of the last three years following major shoulder surgery in 2008. Sanchez is a true four-pitch pitcher (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup) who gets a decent amount of ground balls (45.3% from 2010-2012) and has actually been better against lefties than righties these last three years (.667 vs. .739 OPS).
Lohse, 34, posted a 2.86 ERA in 211 innings this season, including a 6.1 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9. He’s thrown at least 180 innings in the last two years and four times in the last six years. Lohse gives up a fair amount of fly balls (41.4% grounders the last three years) despite his lack of strikeouts. He’s primarily a sinker-slider-changuep pitcher who has been hit harder by lefties than righties these last three years (.737 vs. .688 OPS). That said, he’s been better than Sanchez these last two years — 3.11 ERA in 399 1/3 innings vs. 3.77 ERA in 392 innings.