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Lohse will start Monday

The Cardinals will send Kyle Lohse to the mound Monday against the Astros as they try to sort out their post season pitching picture and clinch the division title at the same time.

Lohse, 5-8 with a 4.83 ERA, hasn't pitched since Sept. 12 against Atlanta when he gave up seven hits and four runs in 3 1/3 innings. His only other appearance since Aug. 21 is a scoreless inning he pitched Sept. 8 against Milwaukee.

blog post photo

Kyle Lohse is pulled from the game Sept. 12 agains the Braves by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. AP photo.

It's unknown what the Cardinals have in mind for Lohse, fourth starter or reliever? It was widely believed when the Birds signed John Smoltz that he would be the eighth inning man, setting up the NL's steadiest closer, Ryan Franklin. But Lohse has stuggled with injuries and Todd Wellemeyer has been ineffective, leaving St. Louis short in the rotation. Meanwhile, Franklin has blown three out of his last four save opportunities...

Lohse could be the fourth starter, who would likely be of little use in the best of five first round of the playoffs. But does he have the durability, stamina and effectiveness to start after so much time off. Smoltz has been much better than any of the other alternatives in the rotation. But he is an experienced and successful reliever. Would he make a bigger impact in the rotation or the bullpen?

No matter where they plan to use him. it's probably wise to let Lohse start instead of pitching him out of the bullpen. That way he'll get some more innings to get his arm in shape and work on his stuff. Meanwhile, it's easier to dial it down and go to the pen than it is to get used to pitching an inning or two at a time and then suddenly try to go six or seven frames.