Saturday, April 08, 2006

Third Pitch Eludes Scott Kazmir

Tampa Bay starter Scott Kazmir continued to try to develop a changeup as he prepared for Sunday's game, but his complementary third option eludes him. Waiting for Kazmir's fastball or slider, hitters have at least a 50-50 chance of guessing correctly when they sit on the heater. Worse, if either of Kazmir's pitches isn't working on any given day, Kazmir is in big trouble, as evidenced by his 9.24 spring ERA, and his surrendering of six earned runs, eight hits and three walks before being knocked out after four innings on opening day. No matter how good a fastball is, many hitters know how to catch up to it if they know it's coming. Ironically, the Mets, who traded the 22-year-old lefty to the Rays for veteran Victor Zambrano, 30, have been mercilessly criticized for dealing the hot young prospect. And yet the Mets sit pretty, so deep in pitchers that the experienced Aaron Heilman, 27, has been relegated to the bullpen while 25-year-old Brian Bannister has claimed the No. 5 starter spot. Bannister, son of former Baltimore pitcher Floyd Bannister, put up a 0.95 ERA for spring and not only has a fastball and slider, but a changeup, curve, slurve, sinker and a variety of other pitches he learned under the tutelage of his father.