When people bring up the subject of a pitcher who is “a former shell of himself”, many point at Scott Kazmir. However, I don’t believe that is the case for the left-hander who had a solid season in 2013.
Could Kazmir find his way onto the Brewers’ radar this off-season?
Kazmir was touted as one of the best prospects in baseball when he came up to the big leagues in 2004. His first eight games that season were rather brutal for him, but the following years, Kazmir would become one of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays top pitchers. However, Kazmir hit a brick wall with injuries and would become an entirely different pitcher.
In 2009, the Rays traded Kazmir to the Los Angeles Angels, a move that would not work out for either side. After getting beaten and battered in LA by hitters and shoulder injuries, Kazmir would stay out of the major leagues, making his last appearance in 2011. As he tried to regain his mechanics and health, Kazmir pitched with an independent baseball team in Texas before giving the majors another shot with the Cleveland Indians just this past season.
2013 was an interesting season for the 29-year-old as he fought his way for a spot on the 25-man roster in Cleveland. Originally, Kazmir was not part of the plans for manager Terry Francona‘s rotation, but he made his first start since April 3, 2011 on April 20. The first three months were rough for Kazmir who had an ERA of 4.83 in 69 innings pitched, but would soon eventually bust out of his slump.
When July hit, Kazmir looked like shades of his old self once again as he would go 2-0 in the month with an ERA of 2.75 and averaged six innings a start. The rest of the year was positive for Kazmir as for the season he would post a record of 10-9, an ERA of 4.04 and a K/9 of 9.23 all inside 158 innings. Only Kazmir’s first three slow months really contributed to his higher numbers and even then, he wasn’t terrible as he shook the rust off.
What’s deceiving about Kazmir’s stats is that even though his ERA was above 4.00, his FIP was 3.51 and his xFIP was even lower at 3.36 which tells an even greater story for him. Perhaps this was contributed to his uptick in his fastball’s velocity from 2010′s (his last full season) 90.9 to this year’s 92.1. Across the board, Kazmir saw rises in all of his pitches which may have helped his control as he walked a career low seven percent of the batters he faced.
If Kazmir were to come to Milwaukee, I’m inclined to believe he would fit right in. Of course, he would be in a much tougher division than the American League Central with a transition to the National League, but why be gun-shy about a “what if” scenario? As Kazmir continues to find his way back to major league pitching, he could do so with a Brewers’ team that is trying to rekindle the fire of rebuilding for the future.
Placing Kazmir in the Brewers’ rotation would probably be easier said than done. You don’t want to push Wily Peralta back past the three spot and then there’s the issue of where to place Marco Estrada considering his roller-coaster season. I think if Kazmir fit into this rotation, he would be the fourth man behind Yovani Gallardo at the number three spot. Kazmir may not be the ideal pitcher, but he certainly proved in 2013 that he’s worthy of a starting rotation somewhere.