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Saturday night's game gave Dodger fans a new thing to fret about. One of the Dodger's biggest investments of the off season, Jason Schmidt, got pounded for seven runs in two innings. Normally, I wouldn't care much about this, a bad start can happen to anyone, but Schmidt's was notable since it seems like he was throwing batting practice to the Padres batters. After I saw mentions of "Russ Ortiz" at other locations around the Internet, I wanted to see if I could gather any data about Schmidt's terrible start.

Thanks to the miracle of Gameday, we can look at Schmidt's pitch data from Schmidt's second and third game (but not his first), and see if any patterns arise. Has he been throwing junk all season? Is it just his fast balls that are off and his breaking stuff is fine? Does he only have trouble in the early going? After looking at the pitch speed and break of Schmidt's pitches, I was able to extract some data. Lots of boring numbers follow.

Game Two:
First Inning:
Total Pitches: 19
Number of Fastballs: 19
Fastest fastball: 90
Slowest Fastball: 81
Average Fastball: 85.74

Second Inning:
Total Pitches: 12
Number of Fastballs: 12
Fastest fastball: 91
Slowest Fastball: 85
Average Fastball: 88.33
Number of Breaking Balls: 3
Fastest Breaking Ball: 82
Slowest Breaking Ball: 81
Average Breaking Ball: 81.66

Third Inning:
Total Pitches: 17
Number of Fastballs: 16
Fastest fastball: 91
Slowest Fastball: 86
Average Fastball: 88.81
Number of Breaking Balls: 1
Fastest Breaking Ball: 84

Fourth Inning:
Total Pitches: 32
Number of Fastballs: 26
Fastest fastball: 92
Slowest Fastball: 87
Average Fastball: 89.52
Number of Breaking Balls: 6
Fastest Breaking Ball: 86
Slowest Breaking Ball: 81
Average Breaking Ball: 84.17

Fifth Inning:
Total Pitches: 2
Fastest fastball: 86
Fastest Breaking Ball: 82

Game Three

First Inning:
Total Pitches: 11
Number of Fastballs: 7
Fastest fastball: 86
Slowest Fastball: 83
Average Fastball: 84.43
Number of Breaking Balls: 4
Fastest Breaking Ball: 84
Slowest Breaking Ball: 80
Average Breaking Ball: 81.5

Second Inning:
Total Pitches: 36
Number of Fastballs: 21
Fastest fastball: 89
Slowest Fastball: 86
Average Fastball: 87.57
Number of Breaking Balls: 4
Fastest Breaking Ball: 85
Slowest Breaking Ball: 80
Average Breaking Ball: 82.13

Third Inning:
Total Pitches: 11
Number of Fastballs: 8
Fastest fastball: 89
Slowest Fastball: 84
Average Fastball: 87
Number of Breaking Balls: 3
Fastest Breaking Ball: 82
Slowest Breaking Ball: 81
Average Breaking Ball: 81.66

There are two things that stand out from this data. The first is that for the first 10-15 pitches of his starts, Schmidt has been throwing out batting practice fastballs, rarely cracking 85 miles per hour. After that, he seems to be throwing up to speed, and he gets stronger as the game goes on. The second thing that jumps out is that Schmidt's pitches simply had less life on them between his second start to his third start. After his "warmup" pitches, Schmidt's fastball was reaching 89-91, and his breaking stuff was reaching 84-86 in his second start of the season. This is about where Schmidt's fastball has been clocked since he started losing velocity in 2005.  In his last start, Schmidt's fastball was down to 87-89 and his breaking stuff was in the very low 80's. There are two conclusions you can draw from this: Schmidt just didn't have it on Saturday, or the hamstring injury that got him pulled from his second start is still bothering him. If the second point is true, then he needs to get it checked out before it turns into something major.

In the relative sense, Schmidt's sudden drop in velocity is a good thing. Since Schmidt was pitching up to speed earlier in the season, the Dodgers did not sign an inherently broken pitcher. The chatter that I've heard about Schmidt being another Russ Ortiz is completely unfounded and just based off one bad start. On the downside, there's a good chance that something is currently wrong with Schmidt, and he's going to have to spend some time on the DL. Also, he should probably look into taking a few more warmup pitches so he's not throwing Chan Ho's* in the first inning. Other than that, I wouldn't worry too much about our prize acquisition.

*A low speed fastball thrown over the heart of the plate. Named for the pitch that Chan Ho Park threw Cal Ripken Jr. in the 2001 All Star Game.