Houston Astros’ 30 Players in 30 Days: Scott Kazmir
In 2002, Scott Kazmir was a prized prospect coming out of Cypress Falls High School in Houston. The New York Mets drafted Kazmir with the 15th pick in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft, but traded him two years later to the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. Kazmir impressed in his 2005 rookie season and made All-Star appearances in 2006 and ’08. In 2009, the Rays traded Kazmir to the Los Angeles Angels where he would struggle mightily and the Angels released him in June of 2011.
After a year off from baseball, Kazmir signed with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. Kazmir turned things around and in December of 2012 would sign a one-year deal with the Cleveland Indians, and turned in a decent 2013 season with a 4.04 ERA. He would then test free agency and sign with the Oakland Athletics where he would continue his resurgence as an MLB pitcher. In the first half of the 2015 season, Kazmir was one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball, but the A’s were struggling. On July 23, the Houston Astros traded prospects Daniel Mengden and Jacob Nottingham to the A’s for the Houston native.
Kazmir began the 2015 season with a strong, seven inning start with only one hit allowed and 10 strikeouts. Through four April starts, Kazmir allowed only three earned runs over 27 1/3 innings for a 0.99 ERA. He would not be as dominant in May, though, and posted a 4.65 ERA over six starts and the A’s only won one of those games.
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In his next eight starts with the A’s, Kazmir would dominate with a 1.75 ERA and throw 68% of his pitches for strikes. Kazmir’s last start with the A’s would be one of his best. On July 18, the A’s beat the Minnesota Twins behind 8 1/3 innings from Kazmir in which he allowed only one run. When the Astros traded for him on July 23, Kazmir held a 2.38 ERA, 1.085 WHIP, and was striking out 8.3 batters per nine innings.
Kazmir’s debut with the Astros came on the road against the Kansas City Royals and he was even better than expected. Over seven scoreless innings, he allowed only three hits and struck out three. All he did to follow up that start was throw another three hit, scoreless 7 2/3 innings against the Angels. Kazmir was named the July AL Pitcher of the Month with a minuscule 0.26 ERA and a .185 OBP against him. The future looked bright for the Astros and Kazmir, but the team would only win in three of his final 11 starts with the team.
In August, batters would hit .270 against him with a .328 OBP and he lost four of his five decisions on the month. Kazmir followed with a rough September and allowed 25 runs (21 earned) over 29 innings with 11 walks and 18 strikeouts and a .328/.400/.600 against him.
Kazmir would get one start in the playoffs – a Game 2 no decision with three runs over 5 1/3 innings. Through five innings, Kazmir had only given up two runs, but gave up a one-out double to Lorenzo Cain and was pulled for Oliver Perez. Cain would score on an Eric Hosmer single and the run would be charged to Kazmir.
On the season, Kazmir would finish with 183 innings, a 1.208 WHIP and a career-best ERA (3.10), but was mostly a disappointment considering the investment the team gave up to get him.
More Houston Astros Season Recaps:
- Vince Velasquez
- Tony Sipp
- Jonathan Villar
- Preston Tucker
- Mike Fiers
- Hank Conger
- Chad Qualls
- Jon Singleton
- Joe Thatcher
- Marwin Gonzalez
- Josh Fields
- Jake Marisnick
- Pat Neshek
- Jed Lowrie
- Luis Valbuena
- Scott Feldman
- Evan Gattis
- Will Harris
- Luke Gregerson
- Chris Carter
- Jason Castro
What to expect in 2016
It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Kazmir is going to be with a different team in 2016. He will be 32 years old at the start of the 2016 season so he’ll still be looking for a multi-year contract and there are more teams out there willing to pay big money for the numbers he produces.
Speaking of numbers, Kazmir’s look good to great, but the eye test shows his vulnerability in big situations and hitters were teeing off on him by the end of the season.