One Dodger lefty fared better than another on Thursday

The good news is that the Dodgers Opening Day starting rotation became a little clearer on Thursday.

The bad news is that it apparently will not include 33-year-old left-hander Scott Kazmir.

After making only 14 pitches in his second start of the spring against the Colorado Rockies on March 6, Kazmir was removed from the game after experiencing what was called “hip tightness.” It was later reported that the 6′-0″ / 195-pound Houston, Texas native would undergo a “precautionary MRI” the following day. Fortunately – at least it seemed so at the time – the MRI came back negative.

On Thursday, however, Kazmir pitched a five-inning simulated game against Dodgers minor leaguers Jacob Scavuzzo, Mike Ahmed and Gersel Pitre – a very formidable trio, to say the least. The simulated game went exceptionally well … for Messrs. Scavuzzo, Ahmad and Pitre, that is. For Kazmir, not so much.

One of these two Dodgers left-handers may make the Opening Day starting rotation. The other one clearly will not. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Of Kazmir’s 71 total pitches, only 44 were strikes, and both Scavuzzo and Ahmed took him deep, with Ahmad also hitting what would have been a double off the wall. (Did I mention that Scavuzzo, Ahmed and Pitre were very formidable hitters?).

But even more disturbing than the two home runs and the double was the fact that Kazmir’s fastball velocity topped out at 85-86 MPH, with most of them in the 82-83 MPH range.

“I feel close, really close,” Kazmir told reporters after his five innings of work. “I was able to keep my tempo, keep my balance and use this hip to get through. It’s a lot of things that we have to focus on. It’s just a matter of putting that altogether.”

When asked if he knew what his fastball velocity was during the workout, Kazmir was less than excited to know.

“I don’t even want to know. I know it’s not there yet.”

But there is one guy who did want to know – Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, although even he is not overly concerned. Not yet, that is.

“We’ve got to see the improvement in velocity at some point in time. I think he’ll say the same thing,” Roberts said. “I don’t know if there’s a certain number of miles per hour that he needs to pitch at. I think he was 82-84 today. That’s not the number and he’ll be the first to tell you that.”

The news wasn’t all bad on Thursday afternoon. Over in Camelback Ranch Stadium, fellow left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched exceptionally well against the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. Making only his second start of the spring, the soon-to-be (on March 25) 30-year-old Incheon, South Korea native pitched three innings in which he allowed one run on three hits while walking one and striking out four.

“I feel like I’ll be ready for Opening Day,” Ryu told reporters through his interpreter, Bryan Lee after his outing. “I’m not too concerned about the spot (in the starting rotation). I just want to be in the starting rotation.

“I’m healthy right now, and that’s the only thing that matters. You have to be healthy to talk about location. Obviously, being healthy is the priority,” added Ryu. “The last two years have been tough for me. But I’m here right now with my teammates building up my stamina, building up my pitch counts, my innings. I’m going to pitch two or three more games. I feel like I’ll be ready by then.”

When the Dodger skipper was informed of what Ryu had said about his outing, he was equally impressed.

“That’s good to hear from Ryu and hopefully he can continue to progress and not have any setbacks,” Roberts said. “Yeah, he’s tracking to be ready for Opening Day. As we get closer to breaking camp, I hope he makes our decision really tough.

“He’s up to three innings right now, he’s optimistic, he feels good. And so, the next time he gets out there, it’ll be four innings,” he added. “Hopefully he continues to progress and doesn’t have any setbacks. We’ll see where we are when we break.”

It’s obvious that Hyun-Jin Ryu was pleased with his outing on Thursday afternoon. It’s also obvious that SportsNetLA’s Alanna Rizzo had fun interviewing the always-entertaining South Korean left-hander.
(Video capture courtesy of SportsNetLA)

Barring a miraculous recovery by Scott Kazmir and with the Dodgers set to break camp two weeks from now, it appears that one of those decisions is going to be a lot easier than the other.


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13 Responses to “One Dodger lefty fared better than another on Thursday”

  1. SoCalBum says:

    What was Ryu’s fastball velocity? Appeared to be throwing hard but without much command of his fastball. Breaking pitches looked terrific.

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      It’s not listed on the Gameday recap and it wasn’t included in the little box on SNLA, but my guess would be in the 88-90 range.

      I have to be brutally honest here, I am absolutely terrified of Ryu’s fastball. The High-A minor leaguers scorched it when he was rehabbing with Rancho last season. That said, and as you noted, he has one of the best curveballs in the game. I was equally impressed with his slider, which he only threw a couple of times.

      This was his first pitch of the game – a fastball:

       photo Ryus 1st Pitch.jpg


      • Badger3 says:

        Strike 1.

        Unless it was 90 mph I think I could put that in play.

        I’m pleasantly surprised Ryu is where he is. 20 starts and 100 innings from him would help this frangible starting staff immensely. Projection sites don’t think much of his chances. ZiPS has him at 17 starts, 90 innings and 1.4 WAR. Heck, I’d I’d take that too.

      • CruzinBlue says:

        Yikes, indeed!

        Do you think he’s holding anything back, being it was only his second start of the Spring? When camp breaks, if he can be in the 92-94 range with movement, I’d take that any day. The next two weeks will tell the story.

        Come on arm strength!

  2. oldbrooklynfan says:

    Although we seen just a small example of Ryu, he did look very good in yesterday’s performance. I’d say things are looking up for him to, at one point, make the starting rotation.

  3. Respect the Rivalry says:

    After his first outing he dodged the question of whether he would be in the opening day rotation. He sounds more confident now.

  4. CruzinBlue says:

    Considering where Ryu has been health-wise over the past two years, this is really encouraging news to read. I know many of us speculated last season that his career was in jeopardy following his failed mid-season comeback. Ryu didn’t give up on himself and that alone speaks highly of his desire to return to the game.

    The big question mark in my mind is whether or not he can build endurance and remain consistent with his velocity and pitch counts. If he can pitch six solid innings or more when the team breaks camp, I think we’d all breathe a little easier knowing Ryu has returned to his old form.

  5. SoCalBum says:

    Speaking of LH’ers. I watched minor league game today with Devin Smeltzer on the mound (Dustin May pitched for the other squad). Standing to one side of backstop Smeltzer’s pitches really moved, had a nice fastball that he kept low in the strike zone. Only 21, will enjoy following this young LH’er this season. Dustin May is a 19 year old RH’er who does not cast a shadow when he stands sideways but he has a terrific arm — does not turn 20 until September; put on 30lbs of good weight and May will be a future top prospect.

    • Bluenose Dodger says:

      This is part of Devin Smeltzer’s story: Devin Smeltzer

      • SoCalBum says:

        Thanks for the background. I now recall the story but not all of the details you included. By the way, Smeltzer made Starling Heredia look horrible at the plate, easily striking him out. Heredia is VERY RAW! Watching both play the last couple of days I’d say that Carlos Rincon is a much better prospect than Heredia.

        • Bluenose Dodger says:

          I would agree with that. Heredia is a year younger so perhaps another year under his belt will give us a better indication if he can overcome his rawness. He has been likened to Yasiel Puig by the way he plays.

          • SoCalBum says:

            Heredia is very thickly built for 18. Runs well now but I think he will have to watch his weight. Rincon is very impressive with easy power — the ball just explodes off his bat.

  6. Snider Fan says:

    “Formidable hitters” indeed, LOL.

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