Second Thoughts Game #77: Indians 4, Orioles 3
Kazmir sensational again and the offense rallies in ninth to win it
The “Kazmanian Devil” Dazzles Again
Scott Kazmir was absolutely brilliant for the second consecutive start, limiting a good Orioles offense to just one run over seven innings. If not for some back spasms Kazmir was prepared to go deeper into the game as he had just 78 pitches through seven frames. From what we understand right now the back spasms should not be an issue, just something the field staff was reticent of enough to pull Kazmir from this start.
Over his last two starts against Baltimore and Minnesota; Kazmir has gone fourteen innings allowing two runs (one earned) with eleven strikeouts and one walk. Control has been paramount in Kazmir’s recent success as it was during his tenure with the Rays.
I am not so foolish as to suggest that he is the same guy as he was in Tampa but his arsenal over the past two starts has been reminiscent of early career Scott Kazmir minus perhaps a tick or two of fastball velocity.
According to PITCHf/x Kazmir’s average velocity is sitting at 92 MPH flat, the last time he averaged 92 MPH or higher was in 2007. His max-velo sits at 95.4 and the last time he eclipsed that mark was 2009. The point being that his improvement throughout this season has not been smoke and mirrors but the harnessing of his plus fastball.
As a competitor and a comeback story it seems the momentum is gaining fast and faster.
Kipnis Goes Video Game Mode on Baltimore
Over the last fourteen games Kipnis has a slash line of .488/.574/.854 with seven doubles, a triple and two homeruns. A week or so ago Jim Pete espoused something closed to the idea that Kipnis is the straw that stirs the drink and he hit the nail on the head.
As much as we look for Santana, Cabrera, and Reynolds to carry this offense, Kipnis has shown an incredible ability to do so. Kipnis has buried those concerns of the Cleveland pessimist relying on mid-march samples and over the last two weeks put this team on his shoulders as the rest of the lineup struggles offensively.
For those who value WAR, Kipnis has put up an unbelievable 1.4 WAR over the last 14 days, which is utterly ridiculous production. The only player in MLB to outperform him over that stretch is the equally torrid David Wright.
Of course our star is unlikely to receive the acclaim he deserves, as second base in the American League has become a haven for productive players in large markets, specifically the likes of Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia.
However, fret not Kipnis and the fan base knows what sort of player he is and in eventuality over the next few years he will be recognized. Until then Indians fans can enjoy him with intellectual superiority to other fan bases as he produces at elite level, playing an up the middle position with passion and bravado.
And the Fifth Most Valuable Indians Position Player is Drew Stubbs?
Yes, Stubbs is fifth in WAR on the Tribe at 1.1 through the first 77 games. Yes, it is flawed but something to ponder.
A player who has drawn the ire of many an Indians fan so far this season has really been solid of late. Over the last ten game Stubbs has posted an OBP of .361 with two steals, a homerun and as usual plus defense.
The K% rate is always going to be concerning and altogether frustrating for a guy with his speed but as we saw tonight his speed is immensely valuable.
Secondly, with a staff of pitchers including Kazmir, McAllister and Kluber all guys who tend towards neutral or fly ball pitcher’s his defense and elite range is a valuable asset.
Lastly, while he is undoubtedly going to valley and peak a few more times before seasons end he is an ideal nine hitter as he has elite speed on the base paths, some sneaky power and adds additional value at his position defensively.
Up Next: Indians vs. Orioles at Camden Yards 7:05pm E.T. first pitch
Corey Kluber faces Miguel Gonzalez. Kluber has been surprisingly effective and his FIP as well as xFIP show a pitcher who should be able to maintain his production. Kluber’s ability to limit walks and get ahead in counts has been key. The Orioles are a very good test for the young right-hander as they have some very good left handed bats including Markakis, Wieters, and Davis.
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They should work with him on hitting down on the ball.
Drew Stubbs could be so much more if he could make better contact. With that said he was a great pick up. He is a gamer who plays outstanding defense with a great arm, has awesome speed and even some nice power. He is the perfect example of a complimentary player.