Kazmir picked up his fifth win of the season Saturday when he held the upstart Kansas City Royals to two runs over six innings. The Indians now sit 1.5 games out of first place, trailing the juggernaut Detroit Tigers.
Kazmir is fourth on the team in wins, trailing only Corey Kluber, Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson, who leads the way with 10.
Kazmir, who is halfway through his comeback year, shows flashes of brilliance each time he takes the mound.
Over his past five starts, he is 2-0 with a 2.32 ERA in 30.1 innings, and according to MLB.com, that's his best five-game stretch since September 2009 when he had a 1.80 ERA over 30 innings while with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Kazmir's Achilles' heel has always been consistently locating his pitches in the strike zone. This year, he is bucking that trend and throwing more strikes, and it's completely evident when you look at the numbers.
This year, Kazmir has 80 strikeouts and 30 walks (2.53 K/BB ratio). If you want to put that into perspective, his contact percentage (total percentage of contact made when swinging at all pitches) sits at 80.6 percent—a four-year low, meaning that whenever he is in the strike zone, he's missing bats.
On Saturday, Kazmir got nine outs via the ground ball and struck out six in the process. He did walk three batters, but he was never in serious trouble until he walked the first two batters to begin the seventh.
Now 5-0 at home, Kazmir is getting better and better as the year goes on, and if the season ended today, he is a lock for the American League Comeback Player of the Year. Not too bad for someone who was playing Independent baseball this time last year.
Statistics courtesy FanGraphs.