Today I will be kicking off a new posting series. For every game the Tribe plays, one Cleveland Indian will be declared that game’s Most Valuable Player. Along with this award will be an article detailing that player’s performance in the game and their MVP rank. An “Impact” rank means that the player had a notable impact on the game. A “Star” rating is higher, implying that the player gave a spectacular performance, affecting the game in a big way. The highest ranking, “Hero”, is only given to a player who showed legendary talent, and turned the tide in the game so greatly that the score might have been much different without his presence.
Thursday’s MVP is starting pitcher Scott Kazmir.
Scott Kazmir (Starting Pitcher, #26)
MVP Rating: Star
-6 innings pitched, 1 earned run (1.50 ERA)
-10 strikeouts, no walks (Perfect K:BB ratio)
-72 of 103 pitches for strikes (69.9% strike rate)
-19 of 23 first pitch strikes (82.6%)
-19 swinging strikes out of 103 pitches (18.4%)
-Second straight win (2-1)
Ever since Scott Kazmir first signed a minor league contract with the Tribe this winter, there have been a large number of high hopes from Cleveland fans, balanced out by an equally large number of question marks. During his time with Tampa Bay, Scott Kazmir was a force to be reckoned with, striking out almost a thousand batters and making two All-Star Game appearances.
Unfortunately, the old “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” proverb proved true for Kazmir and his career. After some struggles late in 2010, Kazmir was given a shot with the Angels in 2011. He didn’t last long in Los Angeles. After being demoted to the team’s Triple-A affiliate, Kazmir went on to post a 0-5 record in 6 starts to go along with a dismal 18.03 ERA, en route to his release. His only option for 2012 was to play independent ball with the Sugarland Skeeters.
In Spring Training, we saw glimpses of the former ace we were hoping for, as Kazmir posted impressive numbers, including an ERA barely over 2.00. However, his first start was delayed by an oblique injury, and when it finally came against the Astros, we quickly lost optimism as he was unable to earn the win despite being given 14 runs of support in the first two innings of the game. But Kazmir has improved steadily in every start since, and Thursday’s was the most impressive to date.
On Thursday, May 9th, Scott Kazmir went six innings solid innings against the Oakland Athletics, limiting the American League’s highest-scoring offense to one home run. He gave up only five hits, and struck out almost half of the batters he faced, whiffing two in every inning except the fourth. 19 out of 23 batters saw a strike on their first pitch. Kazmir was a strike-throwing machine all game, which is something for all of us be incredibly excited about. But the icing on the cake was the movement on his pitches and his ability to miss bats. Kazmir generated 19 swinging strikes out of 103 pitches, an average of 18.4%, which is almost 10% above the league average according to fangraphs.com. Add Kazmir to the growing list of number two-class starters on the Cleveland Indians.