Manager Joe Torre decided that Schmidt would be given a third try after returning from two years of shoulder miseries. In his first start, he survived a wild first inning and followed with four scoreless innings for his first victory since 2007. In his second start on Sunday, his performance was reversed, throwing a scoreless first inning but allowing five runs over the next two innings.
Schmidt had what he said was an effective bullpen session Tuesday, although Torre labeled it "OK," sounding as if he had to make a tough call. Schmidt was encouraged because he tried out an old delivery with his changeup and was pleased with the results.
"He certainly is aware that he had a bad outing the other day, and the only thing we don't know is how he's going to be day to day," Torre said. "He's had one good start, one not-so-good outing, so we'll see."
Gone unspoken is the fact the Dodgers are looking to trade for a replacement starter, because they don't really have an alternative to Schmidt, other than Eric Stults, who pitched Monday for Triple-A Albuquerque. Schmidt said this week that he knows his next start could be his last. He does not intend on continuing his comeback beyond this year after his current contract expires.
"At this point," said Torre, "we're basing this on a guy who worked as hard as he worked to get back. We all know, the kind of pitcher he was, he won't be that pitcher anymore. He's at a crossroads in his career. He has to get used to pitching with a different ability.
"I certainly can't ignore the first outing and how he fought through the first inning and pitched the next four innings so effectively. You watch the game today, you don't have to throw it by people to win. If he didn't pitch well enough that first day, and with what we saw the second day, you figure this is what you have. But I'm curious. We'll see Friday."
Schmidt no longer has the mid-90s velocity of his All-Star days, but he said he was able to win 12 games with decreased velocity in 2005. He said his problem Sunday was lack of command and control with any of his pitches. He said he's convinced that if he can effectively spot two of his three pitches, he can still win in the Major Leagues.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.