(Photo Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Early reports from the clubhouse after the game indicated that Kazmir was suffering the same types of neck and rib cage pain that initially landed him on the disabled list last month. The 32-year-old southpaw was removed from the playoff opener against Nashville with just two outs in the first inning. During the struggle, Kazmir hit two batters, walked two more, and gave up a home run before making way to righty Lisalverto Bonilla. OKC would make an effort to battle back from the early deficit, but eventually fell to the Sounds, 10-7.
The original agenda was to have Kazmir throw somewhere in the neighborhood of six innings or 90 pitches, and if all went according to plan, rejoin the Dodgers‘ rotation on Monday to start the series opener against the Yankees in New York. Instead, he has returned to Los Angeles for additional medical evaluations, opening the door for prospect Jose De Leon to throw in the Bronx.
In his big league debut last Sunday against the Padres, De León notched the victory which led to an impressive string of four consecutive wins by Dodgers’ rookie pitchers. He threw a full six innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits while walking none and punching out nine batters.
As far as Kazmir goes, Steve Adams from MLBTR pointed out that while he has made 25 starts on the year, he’s averaged just over 5 -1/3 innings per outing, totaling 135-1/3 innings this season and logging a suspect 4.59 ERA. Adams also explained that Kazmir’s substandard performance is especially noteworthy, as it lessens the chances of Kazmir opting out of his contract this winter in search of a larger payday on the free agent market. Kazmir’s deal calls for him to earn $16 million in each of the next two years.
Although it may be presumptuous, many fans are already discussing ideas for a possible playoff rotation as October creeps ever so closer. Resident ace Clayton Kershaw dominates the conversations, despite not even getting his feet on the ground in returning from his back injury. Fresh off another impressive outing last week after being hampered by blister problems on his throwing finger, lefty Rich Hill is also frequently being discussed alongside Kenta Maeda, who has been the stalwart of the Dodgers’ rotation for the entirety of the season.
With Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy still being questionable after shaky rehab starts, in addition to Julio Urias and Ross Stripling presumably approaching their predetermined innings limits, the Dodgers still have the option of utilizing Stewart and veteran righty Bud Norris down the stretch of the regular season as much as needed.