CHICAGO - Kyle Lohse is not the pitcher Phillies fans have dreamed about in recent weeks. But the Phillies think he can help.
They acquired the righthander yesterday in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds for double-A lefthander Matt Maloney.
Lohse, 28, is 6-12 with a 4.58 ERA this season but 3-2 with a 3.27 ERA in his last five starts. He is expected to replace rookie righthander J.D. Durbin in the rotation Thursday against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, although the Phillies have made no official announcement.
The Phillies could make one more trade before today's 4 p.m. non-waiver deadline. If it happens, it most likely will be for a relief pitcher.
"I don't know that there is a bundle of good relievers sitting out there," general manager Pat Gillick said. "I don't know that they're available, quite frankly."
So is this starting rotation good enough to help the Phillies make the playoffs? Entering last night, the Phils had the third-worst rotation in the National League with a 4.90 ERA, but it had a 2.98 ERA in the last 10 games.
"We've added depth to it," Gillick said. "Hopefully, we can find a combination that can get us there. [Lohse] has postseason experience, and consequently we thought he would be a good addition to our pitching staff."
"He's been up and down," Gillick said, adding that "hopefully, he can give us 10 to 12 decent starts in the last 56 games for whatever role that they decide to use him in."
Lohse, who pitched in the postseason for the Minnesota Twins from 2002 to '04, is not expected to join the team until today, but said by telephone that he had pitched better than his numbers indicated.
"My numbers are what they are," said Lohse, who can be a free agent after the season. "I just try to go out there and give my team the best possible chance to win. I had a couple bad games here and there that kind of skewed the numbers."
He also had had the fifth-worst run support in the National League this season at 3.69 runs per game.
That shouldn't be a problem with the Phillies, who have one of the best offenses in the league.
"I'm a little excited, happy to be going to a team in the race," Lohse said. "But I'm disappointed we couldn't get it done here [in Cincinnati]. So it's a little bit of mixed emotions."
The National League East could see a flurry of activity before the trade deadline. The Phillies just acquired Lohse and second baseman Tadahito Iguchi. The Atlanta Braves reached an agreement on a deal for Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira and were closing in on a trade for Kansas City reliever Octavio Dotel. The New York Mets acquired second baseman Luis Castillo from the Twins.
"They have to do what they have to do," Gillick said of his division rivals. "We have to do what we can do. It doesn't matter. We can't worry about what Atlanta and somebody else is going to do. They have to take care of their needs and we have to take care of our needs the best we can. We think this is an upgrade for us."
The Phillies aren't expected to clear roster space for Lohse until just before he starts. The likely candidates to be sent down are Durbin and righthander Clay Condrey, but both would have to clear outright waivers first. If either cleared, that player also would have to accept his assignment in the minor leagues.
Maloney, 23, was 9-7 with a 3.94 ERA for Reading. He was the organization's No. 9 prospect, according to Baseball America.
"We're not happy about that," Gillick said of trading him. "We liked the double-A pitcher. But you have to give up something to get something. As I said [of Lohse], he's got experience and he takes his turn, and he's been in the postseason with Minnesota. With [Ryan] Madson going down, we needed somebody to pick up the slack and give us a little more depth in our pitching staff."