MILWAUKEE -- Brewers right-hander Kyle Lohse will miss his next start with what manager Ron Roenicke called "irritation" in the veteran's right elbow, a potentially troubling development considering Lohse is nine starts into a three-year, $33 million contract. He began feeling discomfort "two or three starts ago," Roenicke said, and was recovering slower than usual between starts.
Another right-hander, Mike Fiers, will take Lohse's turn on Saturday against the Pirates at Miller Park. Lohse is tentatively scheduled to return to the rotation for one of the Brewers' games at Minnesota next week.
Lohse said his elbow first felt different during his start against the Cardinals on May 3, prompting treatment in-between his next three appearances. His elbow didn't improve or get worse with the treatment, so the decision was made to skip a start.
Lohse said an MRI was taken on the elbow but it's "structurally fine."
"The way it was going with the muscle and the spots where it's at, you don't want to mess around too much with it," Lohse said. "You're playing with fire if you keep dealing with that issue. We all came to the conclusion that it's the best thing to do. Just get it to calm down for one start and get back out there."
The Brewers signed Lohse only one week before Opening Day. He lingered much longer than expected on the free-agent market after going 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 33 starts for the Cardinals last season, in part because he cost interested teams a first-round Draft pick in addition to his salary.
The Brewers ultimately decided Lohse was worth that sacrifice, so they will not pick until 54th overall in next month's First-Year Player Draft.
Is his elbow a red flag?
"He didn't seem that concerned about it, so I'm hoping that it's not that big a deal," Roenicke said. "He could go out and pitch. But because he didn't have a Spring Training, we would rather try to get rid of this, so we're going to bump him a start."
Lohse's best years have come since 2010, his first year back from a rare condition in his forearm that required surgery. He was 30-11 with a 3.11 ERA in 63 starts for the Cardinals in 2011 and '12.
Lohse is 1-5 to start his debut season with the Brewers despite a respectable 3.79 ERA, mostly because he has the worst run support (2.11 runs per game) of the 59 National League starters with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. The Brewers are 2-7 when he starts and have scored eight total runs in the seven losses, with more than one run in only two of those games.
Fiers started the season in the Major League rotation, but was bumped to the Minors after losing his season debut against the D-backs. He then was recalled to the Brewers' bullpen, when left-hander Tom Gorzelanny was placed on the disabled list. Fiers was the winning pitcher on Tuesday night after escaping a bases-loaded, one-out pickle in the fourth inning. He logged 1 2/3 scoreless frames in the 5-2 win against the Dodgers.