The picture above takes a little bit of getting used to for a Rays fan like me. After watching Scott Kazmir pitch for the Rays over the course of the last six seasons, it's going to take a bit of time getting used to Kaz in red. However for this post I'm going to take my Rays glasses off and dissect the new beginning for Kid K.
Going into last night's start there was a lot of question marks for the $22.5 (at least) million dollar man. Would Scott Kazmir pitch like he has for most of the last two seasons? Or would he continue to show the improvements of his last five starts? Kazmir struggled last year to the tune of a career worst 4.37 FIP. His walks and home runs were up and his strikeouts and velocity were down. Coming into 2009 there were still high hopes for Kazmir, but those were quickly dashed after a terrible start. In May, Kazmir posted an FIP of 6.7 and landed on the disabled list. Coming into last night's start his FIP was 4.69 for the season and his tRA* 5.53.
After a biomechanical evaluation and a meeting with former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson, Kazmir returned to the mound in much better form. As mentioned above, over the past five starts Kaz has looked good, but still not quite the guy who AL strikeout title in 2007. Still, in his last five Rays starts Kaz posted an FIP of 3.55 with a K/9 of 8.7. If last night's start was any indication then the Angels seem to be getting that version of Scott Kazmir.
More on Scott Kazmir's debut with the Angels after the jump
First the results:
Kazmir went 6.1 innings allowing two runs on three hits, a walk, a HBP and eight strikeouts. In typical Kazmir fashion, he loaded the bases in the first inning before striking out the side using 30 pitches to do so. All in all he would throw 105 pitches in his 6.1 innings with 67% of them strikes. Another Kazmir calling card is foul balls, and he got a good share of those. He did not get many swinging strikes and his swstr% of 5.7 was below his season average of 8.4%.
Now the stuff:
Kazmir threw a combined 73 fastballs (56 four seam, 17 two seam) making up nearly 70% of all his pitches. I don't know if the gun was a little juiced in Seattle, but according to Pitch F/X, Kazmir averaged nearly 93 on his four seamer and maxed out at 95. He came into the game averaging 90.7 MPH of the four seam fastball this season. He also mixed in his patented slider 20% of the time and threw 11 change ups.
Overall, it was about as good of a debut as you could ask for. If the velocity continues to be in the mid 90s then maybe the Angels will see Kazmir return to the Kid K of yesteryear. I'd also like to note that Kazmir's lowest FIP and his best K/BB season came in 2006 under the tutelage of former Rays pitching coach Mike Butcher, who currently holds the same position with these Los Angeles Angels.