Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Ray of Doubt

Scott Kazmir left the intrasquad game he was scheduled to pitch in without throwing a pitch on Tuesday. He has been diagnosed with a strained left elbow, and will rest for two weeks before resuming his program. He thinks he will be ready for Opening Day but has made no promises. Tampa Bay will not rush him back, and they have little reason to do so as he will be 24 this season while entering his fourth full season with the Rays. This is an unfortunate turn for Kazmir as he really turned into an elite starting pitcher after the break last season turning in an 8-3 record with 124 strikeouts with only 31 walks in 94.1 innings. The truly impressive mark there is his K/BB ratio, which was significantly worse in the first half. It it's hard to be sure which is the real Scott Kazmir as he has never demonstrated the ability to avoid walking batters before the latter half of last year, but it certainly is unfortunate that he has this incident after turning in such a great second half. His great command resulted in a 2.39 ERA, and a 1.14 WHIP (Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched) in the second half. This is opposed to a 4.41 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP in the first half. There are so many statistics that demonstrate his improvement over the year, so I'll stop throwing them out there, but I just think it is a shame that this had to happen to start the year. If Kazmir can be healthy for the rest of the season I think the Rays had a decent shot at .500, which would be the first time in their franchise history for them to accomplish that, and they could conceivably win more. What this does is allow Edwin Jackson, J.P. Howell, Andy Sonnanstine and Jason Hammel a little breathing room in the competition for the back end spots in the rotation. Here's to hoping Kazmir is back by Opening Day.

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