Drays Bay has a graph showing us that unlike other two-strike situations, Scott Kazmir rarely threw a slider on a 3-2 count in 2008. This is followed by a satirical (we assume) recount of conversations between Kazmir and Dioner Navarro about pizza (get it? Kaz is not fat!).
Let’s compare Kazmir’s use of breaking balls in 2-strike counts to another pitcher…
Like Kazmir, Cliff Lee did not have confidence in his breaking pitches in 3-ball counts. So, did Lee continually shake-off his catcher and dream of pizza while on the mound? Nope. He won the Cy Young Award.
Also keep in mind that 3-2 pitches accounted for only 5.8% of Kazmir’s pitches in 2008. So maybe his fear of throwing sliders in 3-2 counts wasn’t his only problem last season.
In fact, we would rank it fifth, behind (1) his elbow problems before the season, (2) no spring training, (3) his struggles with mechanics most of the season and (4) baby mama drama*. And it is just ahead of (6) the gum that may or may not still be stuck to his cap.
In general, Kazmir was afraid to throw his slider in 2008. This was not just a 3-2 problem. His use of the slider dropped from 16.1% in 2007 to 11.2% in 2008.
What troubles us more than the 3-2 count is the 0-2 counts and 1-2 counts…
0-2 and 1-2 are pitcher’s counts, and a great time to throw a slider out of the zone. Kazmir was clearly struggling with his slider in 2008.
A healthy Kazmir early in the year, will go a long way towards Kazmir regaining his confidence in his slider and a return to form on the mound.
*we might have made that up
I’m Having a Scott Kazmir Related Relapse [Drays Bay]