Scott Kazmir has seven wins and six losses. Not that impressive when you first look at it. But when you do, you can’t truly understand how good he’s been in his first full season since 2010.
In his last 10 starts, he has surrendered two runs or less six times. In those 10 starts, he’s whiffed 49 in 56 innings, walking only 17. Considering Kazmir was in Sugar Land, Texas, last year just hoping to make it through the season, you couldn’t ask for anything better.
This season we have seen the good and the bad. Late April against the Houston Astros, he gave up six runs in three innings. In July, Kazmir was the Kazmir of old against the Seattle Mariners, striking out seven over eight innings allowing one hit.
On average, Kazmir is averaging 92.3mph on his fastball, something we haven’t seen since 2005, according to FanGraphs. When you add that to a repertoire that includes six pitches, he can be as dangerous as anybody on the mound.
Deception and control are the two biggest attributes Kazmir has going right now. Struggles in the past, including wildness on the mound, could destroy any pitcher, and when you keep runners off base, the score stays relatively low.
As of today, Kazmir’s WHIP sits at 1.328, the lowest it’s been since 2008 and his walks per game are down to a career best 3.0. With better control comes the ability to make opponents swing at your pitches.
As the season progresses, a pitcher needs to change his pattern. If stale, players can pick up on it. Of his six pitches, Kazmir capitalizes on it by using his fastball, sinker and change-up the majority of the time.
The increase in the use of those particular pitches, directly relates to what the batters are swinging at.
Despite the decrease in the use of his slider, Kazmir will use it when he has two strikes. In July, he threw it with two strikes 44 percent of the time against left-handed hitters. Against right-handed hitters, he will start them off with a sinker.
In August, Kazmir continues to be slider heavy against lefty’s with two strikes, relying on it 30 percent of the time, except the sinker is used more of an out pitch than before.
Against righty batters, the increase of his fastball is across the board, while the use of his slider is non-existent.
After nine years in the bigs, Kazmir has reinvented himself and has become a vital piece of the puzzle in the Cleveland Indians playoff run. We have seen the worst, but we haven’t seen his best.