Posted on March 27, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
In a move that has seemed inevitable for quite some time, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced Monday that lefty Scott Kazmir will begin the season on the DL. After struggling with a neck issue late last season, Kazmir has been plagued by difficulty with his hip flexibility this spring, leading to a drop in velocity that has the Dodgers concerned. An MRI on Kazmir’s hip earlier this spring revealed nothing serious, but the Dodgers are still using the hip problem as a reason to place the lefty on the DL at the start of the season.
The decision to place Kazmir on the DL comes just one day after what most would consider a disastrous outing in a Cactus League game. Sunday against the Rangers, Kazmir allowed three runs in three innings of work, allowing three hits, five walks, and hitting two batters in that span.
“It’s just frustrating, knowing what I have hitters set up for,” Kazmir said after Sunday’s game. “All I have to do is power through it, and it’s not there. That’s the most frustrating part. Because I feel like as soon as that syncs up, it’s go-time.”
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Kazmir also topped out at 87 mph on the radar gun but was primarily around 84 mph with his fastball, indicating his velocity is nowhere close to where it’s been in the past. Last season, Kazmir’s average fastball velocity was right around 91 mph.
“For anyone’s velocity to be down that much, this late in camp is telling,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after Kazmir’s start on Sunday. “I just know that Scott will say himself that he’s not right.”
An outing like the one on Sunday all but confirms what the Dodgers have known for most of the spring, which is that something is off with Kazmir and he’s nowhere near ready to start the season.
“Where he’s at right now, it just doesn’t make sense, just competitively, to be out there on a major league field,” Roberts said Sunday.
Roberts told reporters on Sunday that he’d speak with Kazmir on Monday about how they would proceed moving forward. On Monday, the manager excused Kazmir from team workouts and informed the media that the southpaw was heading to the DL to start the season.
The Dodgers currently have no timeline for when Kazmir may be ready to return. However, Kazmir feels that he’s closer to being ready than what the results this spring would indicate.
“It’s tough, because honestly I feel like it’s almost there,” Kazmir said Sunday. “I’ve made strides. You make one pitch and you’re like, ‘Aha! There it is.’ It just jumps out of your hand. I’m just going to keep at it.”
Without Kazmir, the Dodgers should still be able to put together a strong five-man starting rotation. Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda are locks, while the trio of Brandon McCarthy, Alex Wood, and Hyun-Jin Ryu have all had good showings this spring. Over the next week, the Dodgers will choose which of those two will begin the season in the rotation. Julio Urias is also a rotation option later in the year, although the Dodgers will hold him back to help curb his innings this season. In any event, Los Angeles appears to have suitable rotation depth even without Kazmir available at the moment.
As for Kazmir, it’s unclear what comes next for him. Clearly something it’s right with him, but it’s impossible to tell how long it will take for him to recapture what he’s missing. It’s also unclear whether it’s a matter of needing more rest so his hip can heal or if he needs to continue pitching to rediscover the velocity and command he’s been lacking this spring. The only thing that’s certain at this point is that Kazmir won’t be with the Dodgers at the start of the season.