MLB journeyman, Scott Kazmir, recently made headlines across the nation when the Oakland Athletics traded him to the Houston Astros in exchange for two minor leaguers in pitcher Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham.
Kazmir, who has previously pitched for four different MLB teams, comes to Houston after 18 hot starts for the As this season, with a record of 5-5 and an ERA of 2.38 in 109.2 innings pitched. This comes after a rocky past few years for the three-time all-star, as recurring injuries in 2008 led to major inconsistencies and led to a dip of overall potency in his pitching abilities. For the next couple of years, his game continued to curved in the wrong direction for the Rays and Angels. Finally in 2011 after being sent down to the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake, Kazmir was released despite the $14.5 million still guaranteed on his contract, after having a whopping 17.02 ERA in 5 starts. Kazmir returned to the minor leagues and spent time with the Sugar Land Skeeters in Texas and Gigantes de Carolina in Puerto Rico throughout the 2012 campaign before his return to the MLB the following year.
Graphic via foxsports
The 31-year old pitcher made a strong first impression on his new fans and teammates in his Friday night debut against the Royals. The lefty and his ability to be a game-changer were on full display in the 4-0 win as he effortlessly pitched seven shutout innings while allowing just three singles and a walk. To the liking of Astros fans and teammates alike, only one runner reached second base against Kazmir – showing exactly why management brought him in. This easygoing victory immediately followed Kazmir introducing himself to his new catcher, Jason Castro, for the first time.
The Astros have not made the playoffs since being shutout by Chicago in the 2005 World Series and do not even own a winning season to their name since 2008, having plummeted as low as 51 wins in 2013. However, for the first time in over six campaigns, they are being taken as a legitimate threat and have proved that their hot start was more than just a fluke by continuing their torrid pace to a record of 56-45 through 101 games. A Houston native himself, Kazmir brings legitimacy and change to a franchise that tore everything down to create a winning baseball organization from scratch. Since Kazmir’s arrival, the Astros have continued their battle with the reigning division champion Angels and Kazmir’s 2.24 ERA, good for fourth in the MLB, is a significant reason why. Ultimately, Kazmir comes into Houston ostensible as the difference-maker that they desperately need to successfully make the next step.
Graphic via espn