For me to sit back and criticize is not right. I’ve endured brutal experiences on the mound and completely understand the feeling you get when you work so hard for something have nothing to show for it.
I have documented Kazmir’s return to the pros for many months and have written countless articles stemming from being released by the Los Angeles Angels, to his redemption story with the Sugar Land Skeeters.
Kazmir proved his worth to the Cleveland Indians this spring going 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings. His fastball showed increased velocity and his command was back in check. He allowed one walk while striking out 13.
His first start was postponed due to an abdominal injury—as reported by CBS Sports—resulting in an April 20 start in Houston against the newly relocated Astros. Kazmir was handed a 14-0 lead, and less than four innings later was removed from the game, charged with six runs on eight hits, allowing two home runs while striking out four and walking three.
Obviously, this was not what anyone wanted, but that was only one game in a career that has seen many.
Saturday, we’ll see Kazmir toeing the rubber, this time against the Kansas City Royals, in Kansas City. Let’s hope that with one start out of the way the nerves and location problems are a thing of the past.
Throughout the latter part of his stint in Sugar Land and in his five starts in Puerto Rico, his strikeouts were up and walks were down. His rehab start with Columbus on April 15 was much of the same; five innings pitched, one run, five strikeouts and no walks.
If you break down the numbers even further (courtesy of FanGraphs), you see that his fastball has picked up over four mph to top out at 90.7 mph. And his contact% (Total percentage of contact made when swinging at all pitches) is 79 percent, currently the lowest it’s been since 2008.
I believe we will see flashes of the Kazmir of old against the Royals Saturday. Kauffman Stadium is a little more spacious and that short porch in left is non existent. The Royals' bigger names are left-handed (Gordon, Hosmer, Moustakas), so his numbers should become more respectable after Saturday.
It has been a long road back but we shouldn’t judge him on one game.