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Scott Kazmir’s Start Has Repercussions Beyond This Year

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Scott Kazmir‘s Dodger career has gotten off to a putrid start, there’s no getting around that. We’ve seen him pitch 7 starts, and after a near perfect start, this has happened:

He’s been below replacement level thus far and has been the nightmare situation for a Dodger rotation that needs stabilizing. His velocity is down a mile an hour, his command has been putrid (he’s grooved too many pitches), last season batters swung at 30.2% of pitches outside the zone in 2013, 30.8% pitches outside the zone in 2014, 31.4% of pitches outside the zone lase season, and 26.3% of pitches outside the zone this season.

This is a problem, and seemingly correlated to the swings and misses on his pitches being down. His release point is lower this season than it was the previous two seasons when he posted 2.8 r9WAR and 3.6 r9WAR, respectively.

-now it should be noted that he succeeded with a low release point before, back in 2013 his release point was lower than it was even this season, however his performance going in the tank makes me think that something is going on, perhaps it’s an injury, perhaps it’s his mechanics, I wish I knew!-

But his poor performance could potentially have an adverse affect on future teams because that 3 year, 48 million dollar deal that he signed this offseason has an opt-out after this season! The money on this deal is spread out evenly so there is a cool 32 million dollars at stake depending on his performance.

We ran into this dilemma with Zack Greinke, whether we should root for Greinke to opt out (which probably supposes great production) or whether we should root for him to opt in (which is probably contingent on an injury or turning into a pumpkin). Greinke ended up doing the former which was great because he performed great! -Lets not talk about the events that followed-

BUT this a similar situation with Kazmir, we should want Scott Kazmir to opt out, if he does, then the team would have gotten their money’s worth, if he opts in it’s likely because of injury or performance issues, and at least one of those ring true at this point, we’ll see about the second one. None of the indicators look good, heck even his xFIP which Kazmir generally outperforms sits at 108, 8% above the league average.

I don’t exactly know what’s wrong with Scott Kazmir but the Dodgers are stuck with him until they aren’t and if the advanced level indicators ring true, then the Dodgers might be stuck with him for a long time.

Adrian Garcia

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37 thoughts on “Scott Kazmir’s Start Has Repercussions Beyond This Year

  1. Good article on Kazmir. Obviously we’re all Dodger fans here so we want/need him to do well. Let’s hope we get to a point where he decides to opt out, because it will mean he had a good enough year to warrant a good contract this offseason. Which means we will have gotten a solid starter for 1 year, and I’ll take that!

    In the last thread there was a good discussion on Trayce’ defense. I think he’s a great defensive outfielder, who’s had some really nice plays, and then some absolutely boneheaded plays out there which make him look horrible. He’s had too many of those bonehead mistakes for a great defensive player. Maybe it’s lack of playing time and thus lack of rhythm. But whatever it is, he does need to play better out there.

    Having said that, did anybody realize that since April 25, Trayce leads the Dodgers in runs, HR, and RBI?? Time to play him more often, and sit Crawford and his $20 mil on the bench.

    1. Thanks for reading! I’ve read that Trayce is the kind of player that Scott Van Slyke is, he can’t get overexposed or else his production will tail off. That said, I’d take a full season of him over CC right now

    2. Bobby I totally agree with you about Thompson’s defense. He is a lot better, then we have seen, and I am not worried at all, about Thompson’s defense.

  2. OK; Kazmir, Kendrick, and Krawford (poetic license), $30MM and a couple of minor league pitchers we can do without, for Houston Street and Heaney. Improves our team by subtraction and we can wait out Heaney’s injury.

  3. I think upon inking that contract if you were to ask anyone whether he would be opting out the answer would be a resounding “hell no”. Last year was a contract year. Enter the FAZ. It worked out for him.

    It would appear he is on his way to do exactly what he was projected to do. Most sites had him with only 24 starts, <150 innings. Is something wrong? Hard to know isn't it. His K/9 is actually higher than I expected, but the xFIP and GB/FB ratios tell me something ain't right. I know BOB has said he should be on the DL. I think it was BOB, somebody said it. At any rate Kazmir is a 5 inning starter with a 5.5 ERA. Something has to change.

    1. On another note. Gnat FO has no plans to take Peavy or Cain out of the starting rotation. GREAT news!!! Keep thinking that!!!!

  4. Kazmir certainly gives us reason to worry, but even if he doesn’t opt out, the Dodgers owe him $32 million total for two years. There’s a guy in Arizona about the same age as KAZ who has similar stats as KAZ whom the D-Bags owe $34 million TIMES 5 YEARS!

    What’s wrong with Kaz? What’s wrong with Greinke? Scary!

    1. Comparing Greinke to Kazmir? I find that to be a stretch, but, the stats to date are similar – for a few starts. I would be willing to go way out on a limb here and say the next 6 starts by Greinke will be much different than his first 6. I won’t say that about Kazmir. In fact, Zack’s last start would suggest he’s already turned it around. For all I know Kazmir may be headed to the DL soon.

  5. Greinke got hammered in his first game; since then his ERA has come down from 15+ to a little over 5. I’d say he and Kazmir are moving in opposite directions. Of course I’m not a scout and I don’t understand advanced pitching metrics. But if someone wants to bet Zack doesn’t win twice as many games as Kazmir, take him up on it.

    Meanwhile, still waiting for Cueto’s arm to fall off (sarcasm).

  6. On a completely different subject, has anyone looked at today’s post over on Dodgers’ Digest? Dustin posted on the Dodgers’ offensive struggles and noted the extreme difference in the number of grounders that the Dodgers are hitting this year. He wrote:

    “Guys are swinging down on the ball, and it’s resulting in more grounders (47.9 percent, fifth-most in baseball) and fewer runs scored.”

    So – the Braintrust hired a whole new group of coaches since the old coaches were incompetent.

    How’s that working out for you?

    Other nuggets from Dustin’s post:

    “The Dodgers are tied for 28th in baseball with the Phillies in home runs per fly balls at 9.1 percent ”

    “They rank 25th in baseball as a team in with an average batted distance on fly balls of 313 feet.”

    “The issue is with the launch angle. The Dodgers are 28th in baseball since April 20 with an average launch angle of 8.2 degrees. ”

    “Last season, the Dodgers had a triple slash of .269/.351/.488 through their first 33 games. This season, it’s .241/.314/.381. ”

    So – the new coaching regime is obviously superior to last year’s bunch. The Braintrust has spoken! Chip Hale was a better hitter than Mark McGuire obviously; Dave Roberts better than Don Mattingly. And more enthusiasm! That’s really important for helping major leaguers to hit.

    1. Always easy to blame the hitting coach when the team struggles, but it’s the players who have to execute. Last year AGone and Turner were hitting, and I find it hard to believe any coach would tinker with that. Ethier, Joc and Alex Guerrero were driving the ball, too.

      I’m not saying there is nothing wrong with Turner Ward’s coaching, but his D-backs had some success and so far it’s a pretty small sample. Mattingly was the best pure hitter of all those guys, but sometimes being able to do it doesn’t translate to being able to teach it. I think sometimes the guys who struggled to become good hitters have an easier time relating to players who are struggling.

      1. As I recall, many posters blamed the Dodgers’ offensive problems after the end of May last year on the coaching staff, but are willing to give the current bunch a pass. Just sayin’…

        1. Well, that’s just it Rick. Maybe it was the coaching staff and maybe it wasn’t. They had the same hitting coach in 2014 as last year, after all. But the front office wanted their own guys, so we’ll see how it goes.

    2. Interesting factoids Rick.

      I have no problem with more ground balls. Home run numbers might improve in hotter air. What I would like to know is average exit velocity compared to last year. How hard are those ground balls being hit? Feels like a lot of pop ups and weak grounders are happening. I’m sure it would look differently if Ethier and Van Slyke were available. That and Turner hitting like he should. And Puig. AGon. Howie. Grandal.

      Seems to me I remember Pederson, Guerrero and AGon coming out of the gate like Seabiscuit last year, so the numbers may be skewed. I’d like to know why we still suck with RISP. Have some clutchitude up there and we can climb above .500

        1. Pop ups don’t count as fly balls? Well, that will skew the numbers.

          I believe in teaching top spin. Just hit it hard. If you square a ball up it should result in a line drive. I would prefer a team of players who hit line drives, can go the other way, can bunt, and can run the bases properly. Of course, I’m not 6’4″ 230 pounds. Seems like everybody in this game is bigger and goes for backspin.

          Just saw a site on exit velocity. The league leader surprised me. Grandal. His exit angle was one of the lowest on the list. In my baseball world how often you hit it hard is more important than how often you hit it far. You hit it hard the home runs will come.

  7. The problem is it isn’t just Kazmir. It is Anderson, MCCarthy and Kazmir. It is obvious that Kazmir must have great command, to pitch with his velocity, and his command just hasn’t been there.

    You would think if it is a mechanical issue, Honeycutt would have already spotted it and worked with Kazmir, to fix it. And Kazmir has had problems, since the begining of Spring training. Kazmir to me, looks like he doesn’t have that much confidence in himself. The question is what happened to Kazmir, when he pitched for the Astros last year?


    1. I heard about that. Maybe with all the other injured pitchers he felt he needed to take his turn even though he wasn’t 100%. Maybe when Bolsinger gets back he will go on the DL. Not saying I believe that, but it’s possible.

      1. Link?

        I heard about it here, but I don’t recall seeing it anywhere else. How can he strike out nearly 1 per inning with a bad hand?

  9. Who was comparing Greinke and Kaz other than they have similar ERA’s at this juncture? The point is that the D-Bags owe Zack 500% more money than the Dodgers owe KAZ. Here’s something you may not think about: KAZ has been bad before and turned it around … a few times. Greinke? Not so much…. he’s always been good.

    How bad is his hand and wrist? Who knows? Evidently someone feels he can pitch…

  10. I do not blame the new coaching staff for the Dodgers offensive problems… yet! However, they may ultimately get the blame if it keeps up. You have to remember that they are installing a different philosophy which can take several months. That’s why I hope for better results the second half. If not, then they get the blame too.

    1. Turner needs to start hitting better, and driving in runs. Agone looked better last night too. And by the way, thanks.

  11. 500%?

    I look at differently. I’m sure that doesn’t surprise anyone. Greinke makes $34 million. Kazmir makes $12.667 million. And frankly I’d trade Kaz for Zack in a second and so would anyone else who is serious about winning. Greinke is a #1. Kazmir is a #3-4.

    I don’t hold the coaches responsible either. We are 33 games in. A lot can happen in the next few months. I look for all to return to the average by the end of September. Turner will hit, AGon will hit, Puig will hit. Kazmir will have an ERA around 4, McCarthy wont help, Wood will be a .500 pitcher, Stripling and Bolsinger same. Ryu? Who knows, probably not gonna help all that much. In fact, I predict every one of our starters but Kershaw will add up to .500, with the bullpen winning or losing way too many.

    1. I’m not blaming the coaches per se. it’s just that many want to blame them (and Donnie) for the Dodgers’ inability to score runs last year. They are scoring fewer runs this year than last, but somehow the management gets a free pass. Why is that?

      1. I don’t know. Injuries? I can’t help but feel there is more craziness to come. With so many coming back at various times in the year, and a bunch of potential injuries in guys out there with a history of them, there are going to lineup changes and roster moves that will change this team dramatically. It’s impossible to know if it’s going to be better or worse. Some think 95 wins, some think in the 70’s. Should be fun to watch. I recommend keeping the expectations in check.

  12. Rumors were plentiful in Kazmir’s Oakland A’s days up here in norcal that he was a HEAVY PED user. My guess is he got his big contract he was looking for and has stopped using out of fear of being suspended and losing his salary.

  13. Compacting the problem is that every Dodger aside from Seager, Thompson, Kershaw, Jensen and Ellis are putrid as well. None more than Justin Turner. The trade that could have netted the Dodgers a slugging third basemen has instead left the the team with a pitcher who started the season hurt who has control problems. A second basemen Micah Johnson who is at AAA and not hitting well. The aforementioned Trayce Thompson who scouts and the Dodgers aren’t sure he can hit right handed pitching. (so far he’s hitting .283 against RHP and .278 against LHP).

    Turner is hitting a paltry .227 with only 11 runs batted in. The lack of his production is murdering this team. Without his productive bat the Dodgers don’t have the power or the fear in the lineup to drive in runs on a constant basis. I don’t know if he’s hurt but assuming he is, he isn’t helping the team by being in the lineup. The problem is that the team doesn’t have a true third basemen to replace him. Kendrick seems to be turning around what appeared to be a slow start the season. However, he’s a second basemen who would be playing out of position and that could spell disaster defensively. Hernandez has spent some time at third base but he looks completely overmatched at the plate. So what does that leave, Rob Segedin?

    The article talks about the dismal performance of the former number one pick of the New York Mets. But every starting pitcher aside from Kershaw has pitched 5 innings or less at least twice exposing the bullpen that was never upgraded. It’s why Mattingly kept Kershaw in during the playoffs when he should have been removed. The Dodgers have zero chance of being a .500 team let alone a winning team, let alone a playoff team if the starting pitching doesn’t go six or more innings every game.

    Now that fans have been patient and we have seen the team perform at a potential 92 loss season, why shouldn’t we turn out attention to the front office and jeer them for hideous effort? This debacle is certainly not Dave Roberts fault.

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