July 23, 2014

MLB News: Indians’ Scott Kazmir “looks so good it’s scary”

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona said that starting pitching hopeful Scott Kazmir has “looked so good it’s scary” early on in Goodyear, Arizona.

Kazmir, signed to a minor league deal this past offseason, is one of the player vying for the fifth spot in the Indians rotation. He has already shown improved velocity and claims to be feeling better than he did in his peak years as a pitcher. Having not pitched in the majors since 2011 due to injury, Kazmir once led the league in strikeouts, fanning 239 would-be hitters in 2007.

This weekend, in a spring training appearance, Kazmir threw nine pitches, all for strikes. It is tough to place too much emphasis on Spring Training reports, but the former Tampa Bay Rays hurler looks to be the clubhouse leader when it comes to Tribe general manager Chris Antonetti’s 2013 reclamation projects.

“I wish we could bottle it right now for the season,” said Fracona.

[Related: On the 2013 Indians starting rotation and narratives]

  • Vindictive_Pat

    You all want me to get my hopes sky high for this season, don’t you?

    *Think unsexy thoughts, think unsexy thoughts, think unsexy thoughts*

  • mgbode

    MARGARET THATCHER NAKED ON A COLD DAY
    MARGARET THATCHER NAKED ON A COLD DAY
    MARGARET THATCHER NAKED ON A COLD DAY

  • mgbode

    Young player: He looked great striking that guy out.
    Coach: Yeah, off a guy who’ll be bagging groceries in a month.

    Moral: It’s spring training. Heck, it’s not even March. Good signs are welcome, but there’s a long road before we even get to the season.

  • Garry_Owen

    Mmmmm. Gummy venus di milo . . . . Sweet, sweet candy.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    The one thing that’s making me salivate at the prospect of seeing an effective Scott Kazmir is that his fastball is back up to 94-95 mph. That’s huge if it’s sustainable. The loss in mph is (as I hear it) what destroyed Kazmir’s promising young career as his off-speed pitches were no longer effective as the fastball couldn’t set up the off-speed pitches, and vice-versa.

  • mgbode

    I have noticed that as well. I am hoping that if he cannot sustain that as a starter that we can shift him to a bullpen role where he might be able to keep the velocity up with less IP.

    you know, like what Houston did with Brett Myers when he lost some zip. good thing noone is trying to use him as a SP anymore.

  • TSR3000

    Stupid sexy Flanders.

  • Kildawg

    If Kazmir keeps this up, he should make the rotation. I think he’s the favorite for the spot for two reasons:

    1). He appears to have his velocity back
    2). He is left-handed (when’s the last time the Tribe had a lefty crack the rotation in general on a full-time basis? Huff?)

  • Steve

    Kazmir hasn’t been at 94 since his rookie year, so while he may be hitting it, I have an incredibly hard time believing he’s consistently there.

    Also, while it was the demise of his fastball that led to his unraveling (23 runs lost just on fastballs from 2008 to 2009 according to Fangraphs), the velocity fell from 91.7 to only 91.1 that year.

    I’m refusing to listen to these “Kazmir is back stories”. My hope is set no higher than that he can give some decent innings out of the pen.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Never miss an opportunity to rain on a parade, do you? :) What’s wrong with having hope? If Kazmir falls back to earth or never deserved the praise in the first place, then so be it, but why limit hope? This is a guy with “#1 stuff” who was an all-star pitcher and the ace of his staff before having problems. He hasn’t had that kind of stuff in years, but it’s not exactly impossible for him to regain that form if his problem was in his mechanics. I know there are plenty of great reasons to predict why he should be a mediocre to poor pitcher… there’s nothing fun or interesting about that though.

  • JK

    Feels like I’m wearin…. nothin at all!

  • porckcchop

    Technically you are refusing to lend credence to these “Kazmir is back stories”. Refusing to listen would mean you didn’t even click on the link for the story.
    But I completely agree with the sentiment that I have no expectations and hope that he could contribute anything.

  • Steve

    I didn’t click on the link to the story, I’m not reading that, or any “best shape of his life” or similar Spring Training nonsense stories.

  • Steve

    Sure, hope at the beginning of Spring Training can be fun (lets go Ubaldo!), but I find it tough to put any stock into simply hope. When there is something tangible to hold on to, I’ll get excited. But when the signs point to a shredded elbow/shoulder and not simply mechanics, its just as fair to point that out to the hopers.

    Also, this article (as well as another at this site) incorrectly reports that Kazmir only threw strikes based on mlb.com’s gameday not being up to working order yet. It doesn’t record balls on any PAs that end in a strikeout or ball in play. It doesn’t record strikes on any PAs that end in a walk.

  • porckchop

    I ended up having to watch that episode. I’m glad to, I completely forgot about the under the sea song. “There’ll be no accusations, just friendly crustaceans! Under the sea!” That and the Gentle Ben talk show made it totally worth it.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    That’s fair if you want to view it that way. And I agree, I don’t think he threw zero balls in his performance either. Frankly that would be a little scary as well as it might indicate that he’s throwing the ball right down the pipe every time and doesn’t think he can miss bats anymore. I admit that I think the chances of Kazmir even making the team are not very good, but I do like that this seemed to be an unprompted comment from Francona. This is a guy who has almost zero expectations thrust upon him, so there wouldn’t be much reason for Francona to talk him up. He does indicate that he’s not sure if this will continue though by saying he wishes he could bottle it up and save it for the season.