Derek Lowe hasn’t lived up to the lofty four-year, $60 million contract the Atlanta Braves gave him two winters ago.

Lowe has produced a combined 5.0 WAR (wins above replacement) over the last two years, which makes him an average starter.

Last year, he had his highest ERA since 2004 and was giving up over 10 hits per nine innings. This year, Lowe has been better, but still not worth $15 million a year. He has a mediocre 4.22 ERA and an unimpressive 1.32 WHIP.

However, even at 37-years-old, Lowe can still be a money pitcher when it counts.

“DLowe”, as I used to refer to him in his Boston days, still can pitch at his best when his team needs him the most.

In his last start against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Lowe tossed six innings of one-run ball and last night against the Washington Nationals, Lowe might have pitched his best game since hurling a no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2002.

Lowe allowed just six hits, no runs, no walks, and he struck out 12 over an impressive eight innings of work. Granted, he was facing a lineup that had Roger Bernadina batting third, but it was still impressive.

While Lowe had his slider working yesterday (20 percent swings and misses on his slider), it was his signature sinker that really came to the party. Lowe threw 44 sinkers last night and threw an impressive 72 percent of them for strikes.  He pounded the lower-half of the strike zone. As a result, seven out of the 11 balls the Nationals put in play were groundballs.

I know pitching well against the Pirates and the Nationals might not say much.

But if the Braves are going to go into and deep into the playoffs, they are going to need Lowe to step up.

With Lowe leading the Braves to victory last night, the Braves moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants in the NL Wild Card race.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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