Two lefty aces for the Rays pitched on Saturday. One got lit up for 8 runs. Let's forget about that and move–David Price will be fine. But it was the other pitcher, Scott Kazmir, pitched his best game in three-and-a-half years on his way to his first big league win since 9/19/10 as the Indians extended their winning streak to 6.
Kazmir went 6 innings allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1. With a fastball staying comfortably in the 92-93 MPH range and touching as high as 95, and an overbearing slider, Kazmir blew by hitters in a way we hadn't seen in a very long time–his last start with 7 or more strikeout and 1 or less walks in 6 innings was 9/2/09, his first start with the Angels–and was reminiscent of the pitcher who dominated for the Rays for four years.
Kazmir isn't the pitcher he used to be, and considering he was always enigmatic to begin with, there will certainly be plenty of bumps in the road ahead for him even in the best-case scenario. But he has already done pretty well for a pitcher who the Indians signed because, as Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto described, "He's left-handed. He's breathing. He's throwing about 90 mph and we have no pitching..." and whom the Indians were concerned about after rib injuries delayed his season debut, and Kazmir's comeback story is already looking remarkable. Good luck to Kazmir moving forward, and we'll have to see when he makes his long-awaited return to Tropicana FIeld in an Indians uniform.
With the Colorado Rockies, Reid Brignac has been...Reid Brignac. In 42 plate appearances, he's hitting .270, but appearances can be deceiving as his .270/.325/.324 amounts to a 68 OPS+. But at this point, Brignac is just happy to be on a major league team. Talking to Marc Topkin, Brignac was thankful that Andrew Friedman and the Rays traded him before the start of camp.
"I knew if I was going to be in Rays camp it was going to be very difficult for me to make that team, so I was really hoping Andrew gave me a chance to get with another team before spring training, to get with my new team and play for my new manager."
No more delusions anymore–Reid Brignac is undoubtedly never going to become that above-average starting shortstop the Rays thought he would be in the minor leagues, and after enough blown chances, the Rays had finally seen enough. Brignac will have to battle to turn his career into anything at this point knowing that if he can't stick with the Rockies, another opportunity may never come. When Brignac was traded from the Rays, his future and his potential went out the window and his singular focus became just surviving in the major leagues one more day.
Here are your links for today:
-Yunel Escobar's hand isn't broken after getting hit by a pitch in the first inning on Saturday. Phew.
-Within the same article, Joe Maddon told reporters that he didn't believe Jake McGee needed a second pitch to complement his fastball.
"I think that's overstated," Maddon said. "I think he doesn't need to have (an extra pitch). Everybody keeps talking about that. Last year he was pretty much wall to wall with the fastball. I really believe that he just has to get his velocity back to where it had been, which is in there, and the location of his fastball.
McGee mixed in a "new slider" at 89 MPH in his appearance on Saturday, and we will have to see whether he continues throwing his fastball 90% of the time or decides to make an adjustment in light of his early-season struggles.
-In light of the recent Clay Buchholz spitball accusations, Jack Moore of Fangraphs looked at spitball accusations historically.
-Doug Thornburn of Baseball Prospectus examined how pitcher windups have developed over the years, using Jeremy Hellickson is an example of how modern pitchers have forsaken getting momentum in their delivery to keep balance and maintain mechanics.
-In just 22 innings in the past week, Jose Molina got Rays pitchers nine strikes above average. Pretty amazing, but at this point we can't be surprised.