Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Jason Schmidt makes his 2009 debutPosted by Nick Steiner
Hi all. I am one of the new guys Dan mentioned the other day, who will be joining THT to write for the Live Blog. I'm excited. For anyone who cares, I live in LA and am a die-hard Cardinals fan for some reason. I also write for Driveline Mechanics
Amidst the amazing season the Dodgers are putting up so far this year, few have remembered that Jason Schmidt had not yet thrown a pitch in 2009. In fact, since the Dodgers signed him to a three-year, $47 million deal before the '07 season, he had only made 6 starts for the major league club that year, and then missed the '08 season to injury.
Well, Schmidt came back from injury and made his 2009 debut yesterday against the Reds. Although the Dodgers, who are essentially a lock to make the playoffs, clearly don't need him, if he were able to retain any vestiges of his former self, he would be immensely valuable to a young Dodgers team in the playoffs.
His final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, wasn't very inspiring; however, given that he hadn't pitched against major league hitters in ~2 years, some rust was to be expected. The thing most people probably care about is how his stuff compared to that of previous years. In his 6-7 WAR years of the mid 2000's with The Giants, he would consistently pump the ball in there in the mid to upper 90s, while flashing a devastating slider and curve. He was a certifiable workhorse, who would continue to challenge hitters late in games and would match fire with fire. However, that was a couple of years and a few surgeries ago. So what can we expect from the present day Jason Schmidt?
It will suffice to say that very few major league pitchers have had success with a straight 87 MPH fastball and a change-up that's only a couple MPH slower. His curveball still looks like it has some decent bite, but if you have nothing to supplement it with, it simply won't fool very many hitters. Unless, he develops a knuckleball, it will be hard to get major league hitters out with that kind of stuff.
I don't want to be the one to say this, as Schmidt was one of my favorite pitchers to watch, but given his showing last night, he looks close to done as a major league pitcher. If that is the case, it won't hurt the Dodgers at all, but it would represent a sad ultimatum to what was likely a long and arduous journey for Schmidt in an attempt to return to the major.
Here's hoping that he shows a little more stuff next time out.
Nick is a Cardinals fan living in LA. He also writes for Viva El Birdos. He welcomes questions and comments via email