Filed under: Pitch FX, Pitching | Tags: Pitch FX, Scott Kazmir, Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay won again yesterday, as did their ace Scott Kazmir. The young lefty improved to 5-1 on the season, lowering his ERA to 1.22. Yesterday’s start was only the sixth start of the year for Kazmir, as he spent the first month of the season on the DL with a left elbow strain. The Rays were 16-15 before his return on May 4th. Since Kazmir’s return they are 18-7 and own the second best record in baseball. Here is a look at Kazmir’s numbers this season through his first six games compared to last season through six games (note: all of Kazmir’s first six starts in 2007 came in April):
2007: 2-1, 37.2 IP, 4.06 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 30 K, 14 BB, 7 HR, 19 R, 17 ER
2008: 5-1, 37.0 IP, 1.22 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 38 K, 13 BB, 0 HR, 6 R, 5 ER
The most notable differences are the WHIP, ERA, strikeouts, and homeruns. Last April Kazmir was second in baseball in homeruns allowed. He has cut down on the long ball this year, and the results have been phenomenal.
Despite to his early long ball tendencies in 2007, Kazmir has always been below the major league averages for HR/9 (data from Baseball Info Solutions courtesy Fangraphs). In fact his numbers have followed the same path as the major league average for the past 4 seasons:
But how long will this last? The following shows the locations of Kazmir’s fastball so far this season. As you can see, he is leaving a lot of his fastballs up in the zone. Batters haven’t connected so far because of his velocity; but if this trend continues, it could lead to a spike in home runs. (Pitch F/X data courtesy Jay Paradise of Red Sox F/X)
Also worth noting is how different his start to this season is in comparison to the rest of his career. Here are his pre and post all star game splits for the past three seasons (2005-2007):
Pre-All Star: 330 IP, 4.06 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 322 K, 158 BB, 32 HR, 166 R, 149 ER in 56 starts
Post-All Star: 207.1 IP, 2.65 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 254 K, 83 BB, 13 HR, 74 R, 61 ER in 34 starts
Even more interesting are his month-by-month splits over the same three seasons. Kazmir puts up much better numbers in July and August than he does in June:
June: 94.2 IP, 5.23 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 103 K, 51 BB, 12 HR, 56 R, 55 ER in 17 starts
July/August: 181 IP, 3.18 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 210 K, 75 BB, 11 HR, 78 R, 64 ER in 30 starts.
It seems that June is by far the month in which he struggles the most. Judging by the numbers, it appears the all star break does wonders for him. It will be interesting to see how he does as we enter into June. This season, June will be the second month he has pitched in, when typically it is his third month. We’ll have to wait and see if he reverts to his normal June performance, or if his current streak continues. If his current form holds and he adds to it with his normal post all star break numbers, he could have a Cy Young season.
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