The incredible resurgence of Scott Kazmir

Three years ago it looked like Scott Kazmir‘s career had come crashing down. The three-time All-Star had lost his command, his control and his confidence. After being a dominant pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, the southpaw found himself out of job. He had been dealt to the Angels in late August of 2009 and while his first few months with Anaheim went well, the next few years would be disastrous.

In the 2010 campaign, he struggled mightily, posting a 5.94 ERA and only striking out a mere 93 batters. Most figured it was just an off year and that the old Scott Kazmir would return the following year. Except that didn’t happen. He was lit up like a Christmas tree in Spring Training before getting shellacked in his only start of the season. The Angels elected to send him down to AAA to try and help him regain his abilities. That didn’t happen either, and by June of 2011, the once dominant Scott Kazmir was released by the Angels. He attempted to start a brief comeback in late December by pitching in the Dominican League, but he was hammered in his only start. He held bullpen sessions in the 2012 offseason, but no team was willing to take a shot at him.

The Houston-native ended up signing with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League so that he could be close to home while still playing. He started 14 games for Sugar Land, and posted an unimpressive 5.34 ERA. That winter, he signed in the Puerto Rican league and while he again didn’t post great numbers, his fastball regained the velocity that made him so good.

As a reward, Scott Kazmir ended up getting a minor league contract with the Indians for the 2013 season. Not much was expected of him, but he had a good spring and ended up making the team as the 5th starter. The lanky lefty wasn’t superb posting a 4.04 ERA but wound up striking out 162, his highest total since 2008. On top of the punch outs, he also dropped his walk total to at the time a career low of 47.

As a reward for his resurgent season, Oakland gave him a 2-year, $22-million contract, and he just kept his mojo going. The 30-year-old pitched well and ended up being named to his first All-Star team since 2008. He ended up winning 15 games for the Athletics while posting a solid 3.55 ERA. Last year was more of the same for Scott Kazmir, though he did have some struggles after being traded to Houston.

As mentioned, just three years ago it seemed that Scott Kazmir‘s career was over at just 27 years old. He never lost the fire though, and kept working to get back. Three years ago he was pitching for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, and now he’s one of the top pitchers available in free agency and in line for a pretty healthy salary.

 

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