UPDATE Since posting this, and on the occasion of the World Series, I've updated Kazmir's pitch profile, better and more accurate IDs (not so sure, for example, about the two-seamers noted below).
See the latest on Kazmir and his stuff.
Scott Kazmir faces Ryan Dempster Tuesday night in Tampa. It is game 1 of Lou Piniella's homecoming. Kazmir has developed as expected - planted in the front of the Ray's rotation - and now has piled up over 100 career starts. He's off to a great start this season, and has been lucky enough to have a sub-2.00 ERA. And he's only 24 years old.
Kazmir has good stuff and so-so command. His fastball tops out a little over 95, although he hit 96 and 97 plenty in 2007. I'm not sure if it is the post-elbow strain version of Scott Kazmir or the 2008 version of PITCHf/x that is making the difference. His slider and change are very good pitches. The slider is thrown pretty hard, around 84, and the change takes 10-15 mph off his fastballs, and can be a deadly pitch. It isn't used against lefties, however.
Kazmir's whiff rate (swings missing divided by swings) is impressive on his slider, but more so on the change. The slider gets chased out of the zone more than two times out of five.
His B:CS rate is not impressive (league average is 2.1), but it's because of the action on his off-speed pitches. They won't stay in the zone, and the idea is to get batters whiffing or chasing. It seems to work great on the change-up, but I suspect he'll make some mistakes with that slider, as it tops his HR rate and has the worst no K SLG (TB per homers + balls in play).
Expect a tough seven innings out of Kazmir. He has averaged 113 pitches over his last three starts, while giving up his first two homers of the year in the last two. He's also struck out 22, including 10 last time out. And that was on the road, against the Angels.
Watch out for the slider when Kazmir's ahead in the count, and the change-up when he's behind. If it's even or full, good luck. He'll either blow a 95 mph four-seamer past you, or dance a two-seamer on the corner, or get you chasing a slider or a change-up. Pick your poison.
Up next: I'm stuck on Andy Sonnanstine, but I've got enough to finish him and start on the bullpen.