Recent Kazmir makes you go hmmm

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Dodgers at Giants, 4:15 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian González, 1B
Trayce Thompson, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Howie Kendrick, LF
Scott Kazmir, P

By Cary Osborne

There are some of us who tend to look at the overall — it’s only natural — and make judgments.

So looking at Scott Kazmir’s overall — the 4.46 ERA — it’s natural to go “hmmph.”

But Kazmir offers us a pretty good comparison because in his last five starts, he has pitched exactly the same amount of innings as the previous six starts — 31 1/3 innings.

And looking at the last five starts, hmmph becomes hmmm.

From May 14, when the left-hander gave up two earned runs in 8 2/3 innings in a 5-3 win over St. Louis (a game in which he allowed one run through eight), Kazmir’s been pretty good. And that even includes a rough outing in San Diego on May 20 when he walked seven and surrendered five earned runs.

Kazmir’s last five starts:

  • 31 1/3 IP, 20 hits, 12 walks, 36 strikeouts, 11 earned runs (3.16 ERA)

From April 10 to May 9:

  • 31 1/3 IP, 40 hits, 12 walks, 31 strikeouts, 23 earned runs (6.61 ERA).

During that period, batters were ripping Kazmir to the tune of a .305/.381/.550/.931 slash line.

The last five starts, batters are hitting .180/.270/.315/.585.

What’s the difference? His mix hasn’t changed much, he’s generally not throwing one pitch more or less than others, he’s not getting more spin on his primary pitch — the four-seam fastball — and he’s not getting hit much harder overall. So what is it?

That four-seam fastball has been more effective.

According to Brooks Baseball, during the bad period, opposing hitters were batting .391 with a .641 slugging percentage against the pitch. In his last five starts the number is .220/.391.

And here are a couple of more differences.

Kazmir gave up nine home runs (thought six were solo blasts) between April 10-May 9 and he has surrendered three in his last five starts.

Batting average on balls in play have also fallen — from .341 to .233.

Kazmir gutted it out in his last start on June 5, going five innings and pitching through a tight quad. He had a rough first inning, but was humming in innings two through four.

Now he gets the Giants for the second time — the first was April 10, the start of his rough six-game stretch. He allowed six earned in four innings.

But maybe this time around San Francisco will get the hmmm Kazmir.

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