Last year, Scott Kazmir was nearly booted from the Sugar Land Skeeters' starting rotation -- you know, the Atlantic League team that 50-year-old Roger Clemens rolled off the couch to pitch for last summer. Kazmir, a lefty whose searing fastball racked up over a strikeout per inning and a 3.83 ERA during his Tampa Bay days, barely bested the AARP-eligible Rocket on the radar gun while getting hammered for a 5.34 ERA with the Skeeters. At age 28, his baseball epitaph appeared written.
Instead, Kazmir has seemingly been reborn in Cleveland.
His ERA (4.87) isn't sparkling, but he has punched out 25 batters in 20.1 innings pitched (11.1 K/9) so far, giving him one of the ten best K rates among starting pitchers who have tossed 20+ frames. Kazmir has reclaimed his career by throwing heat not seen since he left Tampa.
Here's more on Kazmir's fastball:
- Kazmir is throwing his fastball at an average of 91.6 MPH in 2013, a tick faster than in 2010, and nearly six MPH faster than during the one appearance he made in 2011 before the Angels cut him loose. He has maxed out at 95.5 MPH, his best top-level velocity since he was a Ray -- and an All-Star-- in 2008 (95.7 MPH).
- He's not afraid to challenge hitters high in the zone with his souped-up fastball. Kazmir has thrown 41% of his fastballs in the upper-third of the strike zone, well above the 34% average for MLB starters.
- Opponents have swung at missed at Kazmir's fastball 24% of the time this season, compared to about 17% from 2009-11. The last time Kazmir's gas got so many whiffs was 2008 (also 24%). Kazmir has the sixth-highest fastball miss rate among starters in 2013 (minimum 200 thrown):
Highest fastball miss rate among SP, 2013