Veteran left hander Scott Kazmir has gotten off to a rough start to the 2016 cactus league season. Kazmir has made two starts for the Dodgers this spring and has not pitched well in either start. On March 4 against the Rangers Kazmir pitched two innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits and whiffed two. On Wednesday afternoon against the Angels he couldn’t even get out of the second inning. He allowed six runs, five earned on six hits across 1.2 innings with two walks and one strikeout. Overall Kazmir has pitched 3.2 frames and allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 12 hits while whiffing three and walking two. Kazmir’s spring ERA is now a horrendous 17.18, and his WHIP is 3.82.
Of course I don’t need to tell you guys how meaningless all of those numbers are. Yes Kazmir has struggled in his first two spring appearances, but spring training games don’t mean anything and exhibition stats mean even less. Outcomes aren’t important during this time of year.
A lot of players especially pitchers are working on stuff this time of year. Spring training is more for the pitchers than it is for the position players. Most position players can be ready within a few weeks. The pitchers need the full six weeks in order to build arm strength for the upcoming regular season. It’s a long season and pitchers have a lot to work on to be prepared.
Some pitchers use this time to work on developing certain pitches, or work on their mechanics. Some use it to develop new grips on their sliders, or work on a slide step. Others tinker with new arm angles. The coaches may tell them to just work on changeups during one game, or on their release point in another. The results are not important. What is important is that the pitchers gain arm strength and work on developing whatever they need improvement on.
Remember these guys are professionals. They know that these games don’t mean anything, and that the numbers are meaningless. They are able to turn it on once the real games start. That’s why they are in the major leagues. Once the real games begin everything changes.
The Dodgers signed Kazmir to a three-year 48 million dollar contract during the offseason. Kazmir is due to earn 12.6 million dollars this season to be the Dodger’s number two or three starter. Kazmir can opt out of his contract after this season so this should be an important year for him. This is a good year for Kazmir to establish himself if he wants to get a long-term contract. However there may need to be some adjustments because this is his first time pitching in the National League. Fellow starter Alex Wood has also gotten off to a poor start as well.
I know some of you guys have expressed some concern about Kazmir and Wood’s slow starts to the spring. According to the numbers Kazmir has a career 4.88 ERA in spring training and a 1.56 WHIP in 38 career exhibition starts. It means nothing.
I just want to put your minds at ease. These guys are good pitchers. Kazmir and Wood will be just fine.
Photo Credit (Jon SooHoo)