Interesting story out of Vero Beach today, where Rays lefthander Scott Kazmir made a rehab start for the team’s Class A affiliate. Thanks to a mixup between himself and the coaching staff regarding the length of the outing (Kazmir was planning on 70-75 pitches, the coaches wanted him to finish his work in the bullpen after he finished the fourth inning with a count of 54), Kazmir ended up on a short leash when he took the mound for the fifth:
“They said if I threw seven pitches, they were taking me out. I was just throwing fastballs down the middle, saying, ‘Please, just get yourself out.’ The only thing that was going through my head that last inning was, ‘How can I get out of this inning in three pitches?’
“It’s frustrating because I wanted to get back out there and throw all my pitches. I thought I set myself up to do that, but the way it ended was unnecessary.”
I appreciate that this was a rehab start and Kazmir wanted to get in an appropriate amount of work on all his pitches, but it reads as though his frustration at the situation might have caused him to miss a valuable lesson. Instead of throwing fastballs down the middle and hoping for the best, might it have been better for him to try using his few pitches wisely and pitching to the weaknesses of the opposing hitters?
There are going to be times in Kazmir’s career that he’s coming up on a certain pitch count, be it 100 or 110 or 120, but his bullpen is overworked and he needs to get through just one more inning to help them out. It’s part of his role as the staff ace. When that day comes, is he going to go out there and throw heat, or is he going to use his knowledge of the hitters to work through that inning without torching his pitch count?