Scott Kazmir's brilliant September of 2009 gave the Angels the utmost confidence in jettisoning ace John Lackey out the free agent chute. But his 2010 mound campaign unraveled into a mess. In early July he allowed 20 Earned runs in two starts. At this point the Angels put him on the disabled under the wink-wink of a sore arm.
In a season of disastrous individual performances and injuries, Kazmir's dissolving into thin air came as a relief to the fan base absolutely sickened by his deer-in-the-headlights confusion in not being able to make the straight and centered fastballs of his go faster. Thankfully for the good of the team, the impatient cacaphony from the fanbase peanut gallery is the opposite of the melodious calm consistency that Mike Scioscia conducts from his coaching orchestra.
After 27 days off, Kazmir reappeared in a spot start on August 7. It might have been hard to shake the 5 inning, 13 run outing that had constituted his previous start, but Scioscia had a prescription for the pitcher: He was only going to pitch 5 innings. This was not an effort to preserve an injured arm or pace a stretching out of endurance for the pitcher to work his way back. Kazmir was, in fact, instructed to not hold anything back. Scioscia felt that the power lefty might be saving some of what he could throw in the early innings as a way to preserve himself to pitch deeper into the games. What this psychology was creating, though, was earlier and earlier showers.
Under the new Scioscia prescription, Kazmir threw only 76 pitches in 5 innings on August 7, allowing 0 ER and getting the Win against the Tigers. He allowed 3 runs to the powerful Blue Jays lineup in his next start last Friday in Anaheim but threw 88 pitches - he was even allowed an extra inning of work. And so his July line of 11.1 IP with 20 ER in 2 starts has been balanced with 11.0 IP in August so far with only 3 ER.
The deep patience of Mike Scioscia and his coaching staff seems to paying off. If the Angels not yet ready to give up on 2010, Scott Kazmir bouncing back toward the stratosphere would be a key piece to improve the club's deep deficit. But if you want to look toward 2011, Kazmir is signed and if he can achieve his former glory, being in a rotation with Dan Haren and Jered Weaver could make his Age 27 Season one to remember. And you can bet he won't forget that it is a contract year.