Since returning from the Disabled List, Scott Kazmir seems to have shown some improvement over what we saw from him through most of this season, posting a 4.06 ERA over his last eight starts. Compare this to the 6.92 ERA he put up between April 15 and July 10, and you can instantly see the perceived improvement Kazmir has shown. The question you have to ask, then, is whether Kazmir is getting lucky, or if there has actually been some improvement. After the jump, we’ll see what the reality is.
Looking only at the amount and type of strikes he’s throwing, the news isn’t great right out of the box. His percentage of strikes thrown is down, though it is only by 2%, but it shows that there has not been some great improvement in that respect since his return from the DL. He is getting more strikes looking, up 3%, but his swinging strikes have also dropped by 3%. The overall decline in his percentage of strikes thrown is less than encouraging, though.
One area that has shown improvement is his Batting Average Against, which sat at .279 before his time on the DL. Since returning, he’s posted a .238 BAA, which is a clear improvement. His OBP Against has also shown some improvement, dropping from .371 in his first 17 starts to .347 in the eight starts since. so, while Kazmir is throwing fewer strikes, he still seems to be getting people out at a better rate than he was before the DL. Make no mistake, .347 is not in any way a good OBP Against (see Jered Weaver‘s .263 as evidence), but it is an improvement.
The problem is, all of this falls apart when we move on to his BABIP. Through his first set of starts, Kazmir’s BABIP was at .290, which is already 21 points below his career numbers. Given the terrible season he had, the fact that his BABIP was below his career
average is pretty surprising. When we see Kazmir’s improvement over this last set of starts, one only needs to look to his BABIP to see that it’s built on a house of cards. A .250 BABIP over the last eight starts, along with a decline in strikes thrown, tells me that the gains Kazmir has made are purely in luck, and he’s incredibly likely to regress.
Angels fans, unfortunately, are looking to grasp onto anything positive they can in the face of the disappointing season the team has had, and Kazmir’s turnaround seems to be one of those positives. Seeing comments like, “I think Kaz will rebound, he has pitched a lot better in the second half” is disheartening, if only because the truth seems to be anything but. I can keep hoping Kazmir will turn it around, but the evidence that this isn’t going to happen just seems to pile higher and higher. His last eight starts, sadly, don’t do anything to stop that pile from growing higher.(Photo courtesy YardBarker.com)