Scott Kazmir’s comeback with the Indians has been one of the feel-good stories of the spring. But whether the veteran left-hander’s Cactus League success will translate to major-league performance remains to be seen.
One scout who saw two of Kazmir’s recent starts expressed skepticism, saying that the pitcher is not throwing his breaking ball for strikes and that his fastball, while lively, is up in the zone.
Kazmir, competing with right-hander Carlos Carrasco for the fifth spot in the Indians’ rotation, next pitches Saturday against the Mariners in Peoria, Ariz., according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
The Indians, even if they name Kazmir their fifth starter, know that he will be far from a sure thing. While Kazmir has thrown eight scoreless innings in his major-league outings this spring, striking out eight and walking none, he has pitched in only one actual regular-season game since 2010.
One club official, however, says that Kazmir has maintained good velocity on his fastball with good location throughout the spring. His slider and changeup have been less consistent, that official acknowledges, but major-league quality more often than not.
Kazmir, 29, is in camp on a minor-league contract. He began his comeback last season with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, who play in his hometown of Houston, then played winter ball in Puerto Rico.
The Angels released him on June 15, 2011 with $14.5 million remaining on his contract.