By Jon Weisman
Scott Kazmir will follow Brett Anderson’s Thursday start against the Rockies by taking the mound Friday, Dave Roberts said today.
The left-handed Kazmir hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since August 22, when he allowed four runs and nine baserunners in a season-low 2 2/3 innings against the Reds (a game the Dodgers won, 18-9). Kazmir and Anderson both went on the disabled list the next day.
Kazmir made a rehab appearance September 7 in a playoff game for Triple-A Oklahoma City, but he only lasted seven batters. A simulated game September 18 was also cut short because of a blister.
If that doesn’t sound particularly encouraging, Kazmir did have subsequently have a bullpen session earlier this week. Also, there’s this: The last time Kazmir faced Colorado, he threw six shutout innings and struck out 10 on July 2.
“Talking to (Rick Honeycutt) and talking to Scott, he feels good and he’s in a good place,” Roberts said. “I think we have to see what we have in him. He’s a guy that we have high expectations for — we have all season.
“It’s been a tough year for him, but with where’s at, we’re confident he can regain his form and pitch well for us. … I think that his track record has to be given some credit, some acknowledgment.”
With a five-game lead in the National League West and a magic number of seven to clinch the division (six for a playoff spot), the Dodgers are still sorting out their top starting pitching option behind Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and tonight’s starter, Kenta Maeda. In addition to Anderson, Kazmir and (if he returns from the disabled list) Brandon McCarthy, there are rookies Jose De León, Brock Stewart and Ross Stripling.
“When Brett is right — and he hasn’t been right his past couple of turns, with the blister and the ball’s not sinking — but when he’s right and the ball’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing, we feel he gives us a very good chance to win,” Roberts said.
In 2015, Anderson had a 3.69 ERA, including a 22-start stretch from May through August in which he averaged six innings per start with a 3.12 ERA.
For his part, Stewart has three consecutive starts of five innings, allowing zero, one and two runs.
“Brock obviously has been very good for us, and he’s still in the mix,” Roberts said. “It’s a constant evaluation, and we’re still trying to sift through decisions and see how guys perform.
The way Roberts spoke about Stripling today, he seemed like the most likely of the rookies to make a postseason roster as a reliever if he isn’t starting. Out of the bullpen, Stripling has a 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 18 1/3 innings, averaging three innings per relief outing.
“The thing I like about Ross, in either a starting or (relief) role, is his pitch mix,” Roberts said. “He has different weapons. He can get hitters out, lefty or righty. I think he can throw a strike when he needs to. And so when you’re playing in October, when it gets hot and stressful, you still have to have the confidence to execute a pitch, and with the fastball, curveball, the cutter, the change, with that four-pitch mix, he can execute a pitch.”