Not every pitcher in baseball has to be able to throw 98 miles per hour with movement in order to be effective at their job. Not every pitcher has to be able to even throw 95 miles per hour to do a quality job. However, watching your velocity dip is a big deal. Just ask Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Scott Kazmir.
So far this spring, Kazmir has seen his velocity fall to a place he does not want it to ever go again. That range? 86 to 89 miles per hour. It’s where he sat in his time with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and it led to him getting released after some terrible results on the mound that were a byproduct of diminished velocity.
He said he expects his velocity to increase as he builds arm strength for the season and wanted to focus on sharpening his mechanics. “If I try to let it go too early, I find myself getting out of my delivery,” he said.
There’s nothing to suggest that this isn’t the case for Kazmir — i.e. building arm strength through the spring to get up to your expected velocity when the season starters — but there’s also nothing to suggest that the velocity even comes back. It is, after all, what led him to being released and his two-year hiatus.
Kazmir most certainly could be fine, but the early results, even in spring training, are troubling to witness. The ball is up in the zone, hitters are hitting it hard, and he’s not getting anything close to easy outs. You can get outs at a lower speed, but only if you locate well. And, right now, Kazmir isn’t doing that.
We’ll see how the rest of this unfolds leading up to the beginning of the season, but this is a troublesome thing to observe right now. If the Dodgers are to have a relatively successful 2016, they can’t afford to watch one of their prized signings just lose velocity and location like this.