Royals 12, Devil Rays 4.
5 innings, 100 pitches. When we look back on the 2007 season, that could be the opening line. 5 innings, 100 pitches. The rest of the rotation (outside of James Shields) has been awful, but that was no surprise. The bullpen has been vomit-inducing, but we saw that coming. The only real disappointment on the pitching staff has been Scott Kazmir and his ability to look so good and so bad at the same time.

There has been a lot of speculation as to how this season will affect the long-term health of Kazmir. He leads the majors in pitches per inning and is among the league leaders in total pitches (4th with 2066). He is averaging 109 pitches per start despite averaging less than 6 innings per outing.

Those 109 pitches per start is the 4th highest rate in baseball. However, that number may not be as bad as it sounds. Of his 18 starts this season, he has thrown at least 100 pitches 17 times. Of those, he has 8 starts with greater than 110 pitches, but he has no starts with greater than 120. Baseball Prospectus has a formula for relating the number of pitches thrown in each start to a “Stress” level on the pitcher’s arm. The lack of starts with 120+ pitches thrown has actually helped keep Kazmir’s stress-level down. While he is 4th in pitches thrown and pitches per start, he is only tied for 18th in “Stress”. 20 different pitchers have starts this season with at least 122 pitches thrown. Five of those pitchers have done it more than once. Kazmir’s high pitches per start rate is due more to consistent pitch counts in the 100-110 range and not due to the occasional red-level pitch count. The occasional 125+ pitch game can be far more stressful on the arm than consistently throwing 100-110.

It appears as though Kazmir and Joe Maddon are not necessarily adding risk to the long-term health of Kid K’s left arm. However, if he is going to be successful he needs to be more judicial with his pitches and work later into games.

Scott Kazmir has an unusually high Opponents Batting Average on Balls put in play (BABIP), considering the rest of his numbers. Opponents are hitting .345 when they hit the ball which is the 6th highest in baseball (Edwin Jackson has the highest rate at .378). Such a high BABIP is generally considered bad luck with batted balls finding openings in the defense higher than would normally be expected. The high rate against a pitcher like with good stuff, could just be bad luck. If that is the case, and Kazmir experiences a reversal of fortune, he will see fewer base runners and fewer hitters which will lead to more 7 and 8 inning outings and we could see a stronger second half from Kid K.

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • And the first half ends. Worst. Record. In. Baseball.
  • We can see how 2 days of all-star activities can be rough on a 25-year old. So it is a good thing that Joe Maddon gave Carl Crawford Sunday off (C.C. did pinch hit in the 8th inning).
  • When the Rays ended their 11-game losing streak there was plenty of celebrating in the clubhouse after the game. Here is a suggestion: Why not act like you have won a few games before. Why not act like you just beat the friggin’ Kansas City Royals. Why not act like you just won a game you were supposed to win. Why not go out and see if you can win a series against Kansas City before popping the bubbly. Is that too much to ask for?
  • Tom Gatto of The Sporting News analyzes a few of the recent quotes from Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman, and comments on how all the spin-doctoring is not going to make the team any better.

you are what your record says it is. The Rays’ 34-51 record says, “Bad, and getting worse.”

  • Dioner Navarro did not suffer a broken jaw as originally feared following his collision with Josh Beckett. He was out of the lineup on Friday, but returned on Saturday.
  • Carter Gaddis released a major league baseball “Power Rankings” and he has the Devil Rays at #30. We are down on the Rays right now as much as anybody, but they are not the worst team in baseball…OK, maybe they are.
  • Joe Maddon has set the Devil Rays’ rotation for after the All-Star break. James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Andy Sonnanstine and Edwin Jackson will pitch the opening series against the Yankees. JP Howell will be skipped the first time through the rotation as the Rays have an off day after the Yankees series. Howell will be used out of the bullpen. It now appears that Jackson has secured his spot in the rotation and Howell is the pitcher on the bubble. Now we wait and see if Howell can pitch better and if not, will it be Jason Hammel or Jeff Niemann that takes his spot. Two weeks ago we would have said Hammel, hands down. Now we have a feeling it will be Niemann with Hammel remaining in the bullpen for the remainder of the year.
  • BJ Upton is still on schedule to rejoin the Rays on Thursday. Of course that is assuming that he does not get “fatigued” again between now and then, playing 5 innings in a minor league game.
  • When BJ Upton returns, Jonny Gomes is likely to see far less playing time in the outfield and will most likely return to full-time DH duties.
  • Marc Tompkin hands out his first-half MVP to Al Reyes. We prefer to call it the first-half LUP (Least Unvaluable Player).
  • Marc Tompkin also sums up what went right and the many, many things that went wrong in the first half. A Crawford-Hamilton-Young outfield sure sounds nice these days.
  • The second half will not be any better unless Andrew Friedman can find some help for the bullpen.
  • The Tampa Tribune has introduced a concept stadium for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The stadium is a a retractable roof field and they propose several locations. The entire concept is one dreamed up by the staff of the Tribune.
  • Shawn Camp knows all about long losing streaks…what a coincidence.
  • A judge refused to throw out a marijuana possession charge against Elijah Dukes. In other news concerning Elijah Dukes, it has been a long time since he made news for something he did on a baseball field.
  • According to Baseball Prospectus (via MLB Trade Rumors), the Chicago White Sox may be interested in Elijah Dukes…The White Sox and 28 other teams are interested if they can get him for a no-name prospect and a box of balls. Until we start to hear actual names of players that other teams are willing to part with, we are not taking any Elijah Dukes rumors seriously.
  • Carl Crawford still looks back at his football days and wonders what could have been if he had played at Nebraska.
  • If James Shields was playing the AL West, would he be a Cy Young candidate?
  • The guys at Sports Talk have their mid-season report card up for the Devil Rays. We wrote a mid-season summary for another website, which we will link to when it is up, and we included a report card. Our grades were nearly identical.
 
 

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    18th in stress is still pretty high for a young pitcher.

    as far as his pitch counts though, i think he has just lost some confidence.

    he was shaking his head walking off the mound after the first inning yesterday and you would have thought he had just given up 4 runs.

  2. tim says:

    Topkin! Topkin! Topkin!

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