Coming off consecutive losses heading into the All-Star break, Schmidt will look to resurrect what has been a disappointing season when he takes the mound for the opener of a four-game series with the archrival Los Angeles Dodgers.
At 13 games below .500, the Giants have been so bad even Schmidt’s name has come up in trade rumors. General manager Brian Sabean has said they aren’t planning to move their ace—and “as of now,” Sabean said the Giants aren’t talking about trading any of their main players currently on the big-league roster.
“If we were closer to .500, I would feel better, but we know the people in front of us are really struggling,” Sabean said. “I believe there is optimism, and we are still in the acquisition mode.”
Schmidt has looked like a shell of the pitcher he was in 2003 and ’04, when he was arguably as good as any in the National League. The hard-throwing right-hander came into this season 48-20 with a 2.99 ERA and 655 strikeouts from 2002-04. He went 17-5 in ’03 and 18-7 last year.
However, he has struggled this year with inconsistency. Schmidt went 3-1 with a bloated 5.08 ERA over his first nine starts, then lost his first two starts in June, allowing a combined 12 earned runs in just nine innings.
Schmidt showed signs of life, going 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA and 21 strikeouts in his next three starts. But the optimism was short-lived as the 32-year-old right-hander has dropped his last two starts, allowing eight earned runs in 11 innings.
Add his struggles to a team being carried offensively of late by 39-year-old Moises Alou and it’s easy to understand why Sabean may end up being a big seller come the July 31 trade deadline.
“We’re going to have to overcome a lot of things,” said 38-year-old shortstop Omar Vizquel, who is hitting .305. “It’s up to us and nobody else to turn this around.”
The Giants don’t know when Bonds will be back following three operations on his troublesome right knee since Jan. 31. The slugger, third on the career home run list with 703, has been working with a physical therapist in Los Angeles and hasn’t been running because of swelling in the knee.
The Dodgers’ outlook isn’t much better. Ravaged by injuries in the first half, Los Angeles has dropped 11 of 16 and is also in danger of falling out of the race prior to the deadline.
Los Angeles lost closer Eric Gagne (elbow) for the season, and is currently without offensive stars Milton Bradley (finger) and J.D. Drew (wrist), as well as shortstop Cesar Izturis (hamstring) and third baseman Jose Valentin (knee).
Making matters worse, there appears to be trouble in Dodger clubhouse. After Los Angeles lost 6-5 on Sunday to Houston to complete the Astros’ first three-game sweep of the Dodgers since 1993, Perez ripped into his teammates.
“When you see a team going in different directions, pitchers pointing fingers at position players and position players pointing fingers at pitchers, you know something is wrong,” Perez said. “This team is doing that. The way to win games is to pull together as a team, not to be pointing fingers at each other.
“We have no superstars on this team but we have some players who came from other teams who think they are superstars.”