Last night, Yhency Brazoban made his first appearance for the Dodgers since April 12th of last year. Based on what I saw last night, it looks like Ghame Over is back. The big difference between the Yhency Brazoban that was out there last night and the Yhency Brazoban who gave up 15 walkoff home runs to Ryan Howard was that he seemed to be pitching smarter. In his previous stints with the Dodgers, Brazoban seemed to have two pitches: 98 mile an hour fastball down the middle, and 98 mile an hour fastball a foot off the plate. Last night, Brazoban seemed to have more control over his pitches, and even, gasp, threw a breaking pitch. All of a sudden, Brazoban has stuff rather than just velocity.
I think the biggest indication of this change is that he actually got two guys to strikeout looking. Granted, the pitch that he got Craig Counsell on was nowhere near the plate, but he legitimately fooled Gabe Gross, and I don't recall that happening all that often in the past.
Sadly, not everything was perfect last night. Yhency's velocity was way down from when we last saw him. The Dodgers gun had him throwing at 93, and Gameday had him at 95. However, I don't think this should be an immediate cause for concern. He could still be building up arm strength after taking a year off, or he's exchanged some velocity for more control. Now, if he starts throwing 92 mile an hour fastballs down the heart of the plate, then we can start getting worried.
With the addition of Brazoban, the Dodgers already strong bullpen becomes even stronger. By the end of the season the Dodgers pen could consist of Brazoban, Takashi Saito, Jonathan Broxton, Chin-Hui Tsao, Jonathan Meloan (who more than twice as many strikeouts (31) as hits allowed (14) 21.1 AA innings), Joe Beimel, and Brett Tomko in the Scott Erickson role. Is there any team that has five vicious pitchers in their bullpen? The Dodgers might have that in just a couple of months.
There's a good chance that I'm getting ahead of myself based on one appearance, but a healthy and productive Yhency Brazoban makes the Dodgers a better team, and last night was a very encouraging sign.
Brett Tomko has been officially demoted to the bullpen after his latest shelling on Monday. No official replacement has been announced, but Vin Scully said that Hong-Chih Kuo is first in line to take Tomko's spot in the rotation. While I am very happy that the Dodgers demoted Tomko, it's another example of the rash decisions that the Dodgers constantly make. At the beginning of the year management decided that Brett Tomko was someone that would help them in the rotation. He's been given eight starts this year, and he's produced a quality start for the Dodgers four times. Most teams would gladly take a quality start 50% of the time from their fifth starter, and you really can't ask for more out of Brett Tomko. What seems to have doomed Tomko is that he's had a bad start in three of his last four outings, highlighted by a performance against the Cardinals where he allowed eight runs in 2.1 innings. The only conclusion that you can draw from this is that the Dodgers are making decisions based on only four starts, and I can never think that's a good idea, even if the end result is ridding us of Brett Tomko.
Again, I'm happy that Tomko is out of the rotation because the idea that he was one of the Dodgers five best starters was incorrect. However, if you believe that Tomko is one of your starting pitchers, pulling him from the rotation based on three bad starts out of four shows that you have zero confidence in your decision making process.