Dodgers @ Padres April 5, 2016: Scott Kazmir Debuts

It seems like there’s usually a day off after opening day to recharge after the rapid onslaught of baseball. Not this year. The Dodgers have had less than 24 hours to recover from their thrashing of the Padres, and now they’re back at it again against James Shields (in the excellent brown uniforms). Shields had a weird year last year. His strikeout rate skyrocketed, but so did his walk rate and his home run rate. It turned his seemingly-reasonable contract into what is now viewed (perhaps unfairly) as an albatross. There is still hope for improvement because he was one of the league’s best starters for years, but there are a lot of miles on his arm and he turned 34 in December. He has a lot to prove this season if he wants to remain a relevant pitcher into the twilight of his career.

Dodgers
Padres
7:05 p.m. PT
San Diego
2B
Utley
CF
Jay
SS
Seager
2B
Spangenberg
3B
Turner
RF
Kemp
1B
Gonzalez
1B
Myers
RF
Puig
C
Norris
LF
Crawford
3B
Solarte
CF
Pederson
SS
Ramirez
C
Barnes
LF
Upton
P
Kazmir (L)
P
Shields (R)

Facing Shields is a Dodger lineup almost identical to yesterday’s. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, I guess (though Chase Utley leading off is still a bad idea). The only difference is that Austin Barnes will get his first start behind the plate this year. Dave Roberts hasn’t gone out of his way to anoint a starting regular, which isn’t really necessary if Yasmani Grandal returns as early as promised. For now, Roberts has stated that he is planning to alternate Barnes and A.J. Ellis over the first few games.

On the other side of the ball, Scott Kazmir is making his Dodger debut. There has been a lot of talk about Kazmir’s velocity this spring. The most reliable data comes via Pitch FX, of course, but it’s only in a few spring training parks. Most of the spring was a relative mystery, but Kazmir’s last two starts were tracked. In those starts, he averaged 92.4 and 90.3mph on his fastball, to go along with 91.5mph and 89.1mph on his sinker. Last April, Kazmir averaged 93.2 on the fourseam and 91.6 on the sinker. That is indeed down, but not to the degree of the “he’s sitting 86” that was reported in early March. Even with a small reduction, there is evidence that Kazmir was spending extra time working on his cutter this spring, and of course spring training velocities should always come with a grain of salt. The point is, the “it’s spring training, maybe he’s holding back” excuses end tonight and we can finally get a realistic look at how he’s throwing.

Today’s injury updates read like they do in the middle of August. Both Howie Kendrick and Yasmani Grandal played in a simulated game in Arizona today. Hyun-jin Ryu is going to pitch in his first simulated game on Thursday, an important step in his long recovery. It’s a good sign that the turnaround between his pitching sessions is decreasing, though of course any optimism should be extremely cautious at best.

ThrowsRelieverSat 10/15Sun 10/16Mon 10/17Tue 10/18Wed 10/19Thur 10/20Fri 10/21
LAvilan--OFF-2421OFF
RBaez34-OFF-2727OFF
RBlanton28-OFF13-19OFF
LDayton3-OFF16-12OFF
RFields--OFF-910OFF
RJansen-18OFF21--OFF
RStripling10-OFF-2018OFF
LWood--OFF-32-OFF

About Daniel Brim

Daniel Brim
Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area but doesn't live there anymore. He still watches the Dodgers and writes about them sometimes.