How Much Longer Does Kazmir Have in the Angels Rotation?

For the Rays, Scott Kazmir was no longer worth the rotation spot or the money. Just over a year after signing him to a three-year, $28.5 million contract, which included a $13.5 million team option for 2012, the Rays found themselves all but out of contention in the AL East. Kazmir and his contract cleared waivers in August and the Rays used that opening to trade him to the Angels for Sean Rodriguez, Alex Torres, and Matt Sweeney. With the prospects in hand and payroll freed, the deal was a win for the Rays. Considering how well Kazmir pitched down the stretch for the Angels, they must have considered it a win, too.

Ten months later, however, the Angels probably have changed their opinion. While Kazmir showed signs of life in September, he failed them in October, giving up five runs against the Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALDS, a game the Angels eventually won in the late innings. He didn’t find much more success in his one ALCS start. The Yankees hit him up for four runs in four innings, leading to a 10-1 Angels loss. This year we’re seeing far more starts like that than like the ones Kazmir made in September.

Pick a number, any number, and you’ll see some real horrorshow stuff. His ERA, FIP, xFIP, and tERA all come in above the 5.00 mark, the ERA the worst of them all at 5.67. His strikeouts are down, 6.11 per nine, while his walks, 4.56 per nine, are back up to 2005 levels. At least then he could strike out hitters and keep the ball in the park. This year Kazmir has done neither particularly well. He’s also pitching fewer innings than ever, just 5.4 per game. While he’s never lasted long into games — his highest IP/GS rate was 6.1 in 2007 — 5.4 is a new low. Yet he’s still tossing an average of 101 pitches per start, which goes to show just how inefficient he’s been.

At home he’s been particularly bad, getting roughed up for 25 runs, 24 earned, in just 29.2 IP. Yet even on the road he’s been a mess, his walk rate over five per nine. While his road ERA is two and a half points below his home mark, that has a lot to do with the discrepancy in his strand rate, 74.4 percent on the road and 57.3 percent at home. That low home strand rate might be the one bright spot on his record.

A further problem is that teams are stacking their righties in the lineup. Of the 370 batters he’s faced this year, 301 have batted right-handed. He’s actually done a better job of striking out righties, whiffing 17.3 percent of them against just 4 percent of lefties. But he’s also walking righties more, which is a huge part of his problem this season.

It appeared as thought he might have turned things around to start June, as he allowed just six runs in four starts. Those results, however, are misleading. He still threw only 23 innings, or about 5.2 per start. In that span he struck out 15 to 13 walks. He was greatly aided by a .261 BABIP. So, predictably, when some of those balls in play started to drop for hits Kazmir again struggled. He’s allowed five runs in each of his last two starts, including last night against division-leading Texas, lasting just 8.1 innings. His strikeout-to-walk ratio: 6:4. His BABIP: .414.

The Angels, who trail the Rangers by 4.5 games in the AL West, have to do something about the two lefties in their rotation if they’re going to make a run at the division or the Wild Card (they’re 3.5 games back of the Red Sox). Joe Saunders has been every bit as bad as Kazmir this year, though he’s managed to keep a few more runs off the board. If any team could benefit from the addition of a pitcher, even a second-tier arm like Ben Sheets, Brett Myers, or Kevin Millwood, it’s the Angels. If they want to play catch-up in the second half they’re going to have to do something about Kazmir.

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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

24 Responses to “How Much Longer Does Kazmir Have in the Angels Rotation?”

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  1. Rick Peterson says:

    Give me 10 minutes!

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  2. Piccamo says:

    “It appeared as thought he might have turned things around to start June, as he allowed just six innings in four starts.”
    I think you mean six runs in four starts?

    Otherwise, thanks for the analysis of Kazmir. I hope he turns it around so we get some more interesting races.

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  3. Rev Halofan says:

    Postgame interview Mike Scioscia is usually pathologically upbeat, worst thing he says is “turn the page”… last night he was miserable and singled out Kazmir as the reason for his foul mood. Clock officially ticking. They ate Appier’s money in 2003, so don’t be shocked…

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  4. RonDom says:

    Went to the game last night and the Angels jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, then Scott Kazmir proceeded to consistently be inconsistent.

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  5. JR! says:

    That declining velo is a serious problem…

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  6. Sandy Kazmir says:


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  7. Franco says:

    How hard is he throwing these days? Anyway to salvage him into a bullpen arm?

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    • Rally says:

      I’m not optimistic on that. He has faced 69 lefties this year, and struck out exactly 3 of them. That shocks me. He’s also given up 3 homers to lefties. He’s throwing about 90 right now. That’s only about 2 MPH below where he was in 2006-2007, which also surprises me. I thought he threw 95. His slider is pretty ordinary, that’s the biggest change with him. It used to be a dominant pitch.

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  8. PJ says:

    This guy was one of my keepers since his rookie year. I finally had to cut bait with him and traded him for John Maine. For a second that trade looked real good for me, then Maine got mysteriously pulled after one pitch and boom goes the dynamite.

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  9. XZPUMAZX says:

    I’ll still take Kazmir over Victor Zambrano.

    Ugh…Steve Philips…

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    • Nobody is going to deny the Rays doing some very good things with Kazmir. Landing him and then getting rid of him at the right time. They’ve pushed all the right buttons.

      And just to kick your Steve Phillips sack a little harder, wasn’t he the one who suggested that the Nationals trade Strasburg for Roy Oswalt? At least he’s consistent!

      Oh Steve, don’t ever change.

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    • Toffer Peak says:

      The “fact” that Phillips traded Kazmir is probably the most repeated mistake in all of baseball if not the world. While Phillips is an idiot and deserves his fair share of ridicule it was his predecessor Jim Duquette who actually traded Kazmir.

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  10. stolenbases says:

    As an Angel fan, I hope they get rid of Kazmir. At least with Saunders you have some chance of winning. With Kazmir it’s basically a guaranteed loss unless the Angels score a ton of runs.

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  11. Dan says:

    Sounds like what’s happened with Dontrelle Willis in Arizona, except without the massive LHB/RHB splits to suggest that he could do work as a LOOGY.

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  12. pft says:

    Kazmir is pitching through something. He has to be hurt. My bet is he undergoes TJ surgery before another year passes.

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  13. HeyNow says:

    Anyone in the Angels system who might take his spot?

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  14. ineedanap says:

    The problem is his slider. He’s not really throwing it. He has been essentially a two-pitch pitch this season.

    Mike Butcher (pitching coach) wanted him to throw it with two fingers, instead of a single finger, like he had in the past, because it was inconsistent. The plan may have backfired.

    Despite a loss in velocity on his fastball, he can still get batters out the first time through the order. Its the lack of any secondary pitches thats killing him. If he can find his slider, he can still be a very effective starter. If not, my guess is the Angels eventually use O’Sullivan or pick up an arm before the deadline.

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  15. appleshampo says:

    I hate to pick nits, but “horrorshow” actually means “good” in the Nadsat vocabulary, which I’m assuming is the allusion you were using.

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    • exxrox says:

      holy **** I was beaten to it at 5:30AM..this keeps happening

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    • Benne says:

      That’s pretty interesting. Only time I’ve ever heard the word was in Clockwork Orange, which I assumed was just a part of the fancy futuristic lingo used in that movie.

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  16. Ronno says:

    This can all be traced back to that All Star game when he he warmed up what must’ve been 10 times.

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  17. Paul says:

    I’m not saying he’s not hurt, but the average velo is still over 90. 92-93 a couple years ago to 90 is obviously not great, but that’s mainly because his control is worse. Hard to imagine pitching with that velo for 2 years of an injury. Looks to me like serious, zoned out and doesn’t know what to do mechanical issues.

    Add up all the headscratchers with this guy (total inability to get out lefties; still good contact rate, esp in the zone; improving change; improving gb rate) and you may still have a healthy, talented lefty who just needs a change of scenery. Looks like a perfect target for St. Louis, especially because he can play catch at least once through the lineup and get out control-induced jams. It would not surprise me if he gets coaching he can buy into and gets back to a legit #3.

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  18. Kyle says:

    Good call Ronno, I remember that, and since then he’s not the same pitcher.

    Let’s face it, he was always wild, but would rack up the strikeouts and threw 94-98 mph. Now he might hit 93 or 94(which isn’t that effective when it’s 8 inches off the plate and the catcher’s barely able to catch it.)

    In highschool, he was clocked at 95-96 mph regularly. Now he relies on secondary pitches that aren’t exactly plus pitches. His slider sucks now, as does his off-speed stuff… so unless he actually regains the velocity he once had, he’s done.

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  19. Stu says:

    After last night, I would say a releasing is in his future

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