Should the Dodgers be worried about Scott Kazmir's lack of velocity?
Scott Kazmir was only throwing 86-89 (down from 93 last season) miles per hour in his Monday B-game outing.
After losing Zack Greinke to the Diamondbacks in free agency and then nixing a deal with Hisashi Iwakuma after a peek at his medicals, the Dodgers brought in lefty Scott Kazmir on a three-year, $48 million deal this past offseason.
The spring thus far hasn't exactly been encouraging for Kazmir. In two big-league outings he has a 17.18 ERA and 3.82 WHIP. His last outing was a "B-game" start on Monday, in which teams can stop innings after certain pitch counts. From latimes.com, this is what happened with Kazmir's first two innings Monday:
In the first inning, three of the first four batters got hits, and the Dodgers ended the inning because Kazmir had thrown enough pitches. In the second, two of the first three batters got hits, and the Dodgers ended that inning too. In the third, Kazmir mostly abandoned his fastball, and he hit two batters on breaking pitches.
In many cases we should pretty much ignore spring stats, but in this case there's at least a cause for concern. Kazmir's fastball velocity was reportedly hovering in the mid-to-high 80s. Per brooksbaseball.net, the last time Kazmir's average fastball velocity during regular-season play was close to that low was back in April of 2011. Good baseball minds might note that 2011 is when Kazmir had to be released from the Angels and he ended up playing for the Sugar Land Skeeters the following year in Indy ball before finally working back to the bigs in 2013 with Cleveland.
For the first half last season, when Kazmir was very good for the A's, his fastball was averaging over 93 miles per hour. So him sitting 86-89 (per latimes.com) Monday has to turn some heads. It's a significant dip when even losing 2-3 mph is a cause for concern.
Still, Kazmir insisted that his arm feels fine and it's only March 15. He has plenty of time to work himself back up to his usual velocity.
Given the date, there's no reason to panic. He could start pumping it up there at 93 in two weeks' time. Given Kazmir's history and the fact that Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Wood (his is mild, though) are injured, though, there has to be some level of concern here. Clayton Kershaw can only pitch once every five days, after all.
So let's file this under "something to watch" in the NL West.
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