FanPost

Scott Kazmir and the Magic of Rick Peterson

As a followup to RJ's and FreeZorilla's Kazmir post, I decided to look at Kazmir's pitch f/x to see if there was any difference between pre and post DL. Turns out, there's actually some interesting things. Especially with regards to his fastball.

Scott Kazmir started off the season with 2 wins, 10 strikeouts, and 3 walks against Boston and New York. Things were good, but after the next 7 starts, where Kazmir had trouble getting out of the 4th, and saw his walks and ERA balloon, it was evident there were serious issues. As a result, Kazmir landed on the disabled list in May with the directive to figure things out. Old lights out Kazmir was missing. While on the disabled list he sought out the advice of his old Mets pitching coach, Rick Peterson, to see if he might give his mechanics a tweak. In his 4 recent starts after the consultation and DL trip, Kazmir has pitched a lot better than in his first 9 games. Could it be Rick Peterson? Let’s look at Scott Kazmir before and after his visit to the pitch doctor to see what exactly, if anything, changed.

Starts

ERA

WHIP

K

BB

K/BB

Pre RP

9

7.69

1.95

35

29

1.21

Post RP

4

4.43

1.34

18

8

2.25

Well, that’s quite the difference in before and after. Kazmir has a lower ERA (although still not vintage Kaz), lower whip, and a better strikeouts-to-walk ratio. Let’s break it down a bit more to see what exactly has changed with Kaz.

Pre Rick Peterson

Pitch Type

Avg. Speed

Max Speed

Avg. H-Break

Avg. V-Break

Num. %

Strike %

Batted %

CH

78.4

86.8

8.724

5.104

10.1%

55.2%

37.5%

FF

89.6

93.8

8.677

9.779

53.6%

58.5%

24.7%

FT

88.7

91.8

9.007

9.359

12.0%

60.6%

33.3%

SL

80.4

83.4

0.618

4.075

24.2%

65.6%

35.8%

Post Rick Peterson

Pitch Type

Avg. Speed

Max Speed

Avg. H-Break

Avg. V-Break

Num. %

Strike %

Batted %

CH

79.3

85.1

9.257

4.466

15.1%

60.0%

30.6%

FF

91.5

95.2

8.229

10.010

48.6%

66.8%

29.5%

FT

85.8

94.0

8.658

7.715

12.8%

54.9%

28.6%

SL

82.0

85.7

0.606

4.629

23.2%

63.0%

22.4%

Difference (Post – Pre)

Pitch Type

Avg. Speed

Max Speed

Avg. H-Break

Avg. V-Break

Num. %

Strike %

Batted %

CH

0.9

-1.7

0.534

-0.638

5.0%

4.8%

-6.9%

FF

1.9

1.4

-0.449

0.231

-5.0%

8.3%

4.7%

FT

-2.9

2.2

-0.349

-1.644

0.8%

-5.7%

-4.8%

SL

1.5

2.3

-0.013

0.554

-1.0%

-2.5%

-13.4%

Hey! It looks like Kazmir has definitely gotten better after his DL trip. Now whether that was due to getting over his injury or maybe tweaking his mechanics due to Rick Peterson’s magic is unknown, but Kazmir definitely sees an improvement. The big thing that jumps out is his velocity. His slider and 4-seamer are about 2 mph faster, but what’s really interesting is his 2-seamer, which is actually 3 mph slower in his post DL stints. It seems rather intriguing that the fastball velocity difference between his 4-seam and 2-seam has been significantly larger. I wonder if that difference has helped lead to his success. It probably has helped considering before the DL trip his 4-seamer and 2-seamer differ very slightly whereas now they’re completely different.

Kazmir’s also changed his pitch usage. It appears he’s throwing his fastball less often, and utilizing more changeups in its place, but what’s really exciting is that when he does throw the 4-seamer and changeup, both go for strikes more often.

What’s also interesting is the difference in movement on Kazmir’s pitches. His 4-seamer appears to have roughly the same amount of vertical break, but less horizontal break, which suggests it doesn’t cut as much into lefties as before. But when combined with his 2-seamer, which has a lot more drop and more break, there’s a pretty strong distinction in movement and speed between his two fastballs. His change up appears to have slightly more drop and more break away from righties while his slider appears to have less tilt.

So, it looks like whatever happened while Kazmir was on the DL definitely changed Kazmir. Rick Peterson magic? Maybe. But Kazmir’s pitches in his recent starts have been reasonably better. They’ve got slightly different breaks and speeds than before, with his 2-seamer the most noticeably different. What I’d personally like to see is a slightly better change up, the speed difference between his 4-seamer and the changeup actually increased from 11.3 to 12.2, and Dave Allen’s done excellent work on figuring out the optimal difference is between 5 to 10 mph.

Enough nitpicking. He may not be vintage Kaz, but I’ll take it. Let's hope he's healthy.

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.

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