Last year, I wrote about Lowe that “When dealing with pitchers, the most important thing to look at for the next year is not the age, but what they did the previous season… The main thing I look for when projecting pitchers forward is strikeout rate; if they’re losing strikeouts, they’re about to hit the wall.” So, the bad news is that Lowe had a 4.67 ERA last year, and an 88 ERA+ that was the worst since his rookie year, and that his strikeout rate went from 6.3 to 5.1 per nine. So yeah, it’s not too promising. Lowe has had rough years before, and his 2009 most resembles his 2004, after which he signed a four-year contract with the Dodgers and had maybe the best stretch of his career. Which brings us to his age, which was 32 then and 37 now.
He could bounce back; like I said, he has before. And he could learn to pitch with a strikeout rate like that, but if so he has to cut his walks, which also went up. He occasionally elevated his pitches, which led to more fly balls than usual, though his home run numbers didn’t go up much. His batting average on balls in play was way up, to .333 — which also happened in 2004. I kind of expect Lowe to improve in 2009, but that might just be to league-average or a little below. That has some value, but isn’t what the Braves are paying for. If the Jurrjens-Hudson-Hanson troika pitches like they did last year, Lowe is a good fourth starter, but if one of them isn’t effective or goes down… Effective as a hitter, hit .222 with 12 sacrifices.