Schmidt is Helping Dodgers
Manager Leo Durocher had it all wrong when he said, “good guys finish last.” Apparently the one-time skipper of the Dodgers and Giants never met pitcher Jason Schmidt, who is just that, and who has resurrected his injury-plagued stint this season with the “Blue Crew.”
Just when the Dodgers needed a fifth starter, and failed to land the Toronto Blue Jays’ ace Roy Halladay at the non-waiver trade deadline, it seems they’ve found their man in Schmidt, who is coming off major shoulder surgery.
In his most recent start last Friday in Atlanta, Schmidt allowed one hit over six scoreless innings. He walked five and struck out three, and this can only be classified as a minor miracle.
“Very surprising,” Schmidt said after his outing. “I hate to say that because it doesn’t sound good. But it’s been a roller coaster from day one, from start to start. I’m enjoying it while it lasts. It might not be forever.”
Only five days previous at home against the Florida Marlins, Schmidt was knocked around for five hits and four earned runs in three innings. The grumbling could be heard that his time in Southern California was coming to an end.
The first time Schmidt went to the mound was July 20 at the Stadium when he faced the Cincinnati Reds.
The night started poorly, but Schmidt settled down and worked five frames, surrendering five hits and three earned runs.
There was a time when the 36-year-old right-hander could rush a fastball to the plate better than 95 miles an hour. Now Schmidt’s happy to get the ball there in the high-80’s.
After three starts, Schmidt has two wins and a loss, with a 4.50 earned-run average.
That he’s even on the mound is something to behold. The last time Schmidt, a three-time All-Star, pitched in a big-league game was early in 2007. He missed the entire 2008 season, and few figured he’d see the light of day in 2009.
Schmidt signed a three-year, $47-million free-agent contract with the Dodgers in 2006, and was full of hope and promise.
But there was something drastically wrong. His fastball was clocked at pedestrian speeds. Now this truly decent man faced an uncertain future.
In his first season with the Dodgers, Schmidt’s record was 1-4, and he worked just under 26 innings, with an ERA of 6.31. Those types of numbers will get you tossed in a hurry.
Scouts could see that Schmidt’s velocity was significantly down from his prime with the San Francisco Giants.
During his five-plus years in the Bay Area, Schmidt was on par with the best hurlers in the National League, winning 78 games and losing 37.
Just before the trade deadline in 2001, the Pittsburgh Pirates shipped the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Schmidt to the Giants, who soon found a home. In two months, Schmidt posted a 7-1 record, struck out 65 and walked 33.
The next season, Schmidt, along with fellow pitcher Russ Ortiz, and sluggers Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, helped put the Giants into the World Series, where the team would fall to the Angels in seven games.
In two Series starts, Schmidt won a game, and had a no-decision. That was his high mark.
Schmidt has been a pleasant surprise, and something no one could have predicted.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a contributor to trufanboxing.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.