Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Game 100: You Don't Know Me

There has been some recent talk that CC Sabathia has been disappointing this year, citing an increase in walks and a decline in strikeouts. His 3.67 ERA probably wasn't at the very top of the range of expectations at the beginning of the season, but he's averaged about 6 2/3 innings per start and racked up 10 wins.

When considering all possible outcomes before the season began, I would venture to guess that the Yanks would have signed up for that production without much hesitation. Historically a second half pitcher, now is the time of year that the big fella tends to find his stride. He's thrown 14 innings since the All-Star Break, allowed 3 runs and accumulated two wins. He was just getting warmed up before.

Going to the mound for the Rays will be their quondam lefty ace, Scott Kazmir. To call the 25 year old's performance so far this year "disappointing" would be a gross understatement. Although he's pitched only one truly full season in the Major Leagues, Kazmir has contributed significant value to Tampa Bay's rotation since he was called up to the Big League club in 2004 as a 20 year old. After completion of the 2008 schedule, he had pitched 722 regular season innings to a 3.61 ERA while striking out over one batter per inning. He fit the billing of the Rays' ace by general consensus entering the season; a lefty strikeout machine who, if he could ever make 35 starts or learn to control his pitch count, would be deadly.

He's certainly not going to make 35 starts this year, because he's already spend time on the DL and is only at 14. Given how poorly he's pitched, that's probably a good thing for the Rays. Kazmir's ERA is a gruesome 6.69 and his WHIP a ghastly 1.716. He's averaging fewer than 5 innings per start and has almost as many ER (55) as Ks (58). For a pitcher with a lifetime 9.5 K/9 ratio, that's bad news. His stint on the DL was officially caused by a quadriceps strain, but my skeptical side thinks he might, like Chien Ming Wang did, have had a nasty case of Badpitcheritis.

Kazmir has historically fared well against the Yanks, with a 2.65 ERA over 12 starts, but only a 5-4 record due primarily to his inability to go deep into games. He's also about a half of a run better at Tropicana Field than away from it, so it wouldn't be entirely shocking if he found his groove tonight. I would be surprised if he went more than 6 innings though, because he's only done it three times this year and the Yanks tend to work the count.

Rays fans might not recognize the 2009 version of Scott Kazmir, and who could blame them? Certainly not Brother Ray himself.

And anyone can tell,
You think you know me well -
Well, you don't know me.
(No you don't know me)


  1. I agree about Sabathia. He's been terrific for nearly three months, with a sub-par April dragging down his pretty good numbers a bit. Plus, considering how the new Yankee Stadium is playing, that the Yanks have three regular starters with ERAs under 4, that's pretty good and, as you rightly said, what the Yanks would certainly accept with that offense.

  2. I forgot to add this before, but I saw a couple weeks ago that Sabathia led the AL in the most 1-2-3 innings. The K total might not be as high as some want, but he's mowed down teams. Those 1-2-3 innings have also helped him have the only complete games for the Yanks thus far this season. Fine with me.

  3. That's an interesting stat about 1-2-3 innings. I'm guessing it's partially a funciton of the fact that he'll likely be 2nd in the AL in IP after tonight, but you're right to point out that a pitcher doesn't need to strike guys out to be dominant. Also hadn't realized no one else has a CG so far this year. Great points.

  4. Thanks, Jay. Great name, by the way. :-)

    CC really struggled to locate his fastball tonight, just like his last start. Shoddy defense didn't help matters. An ugly game that, thankfully, has been a rarity since mid-June. Hopefully Joba can out-duel Garza, and the offense can snap back to life. Credit where due, Kazmir didn't allow much. He always seems to pitch well against NY.