Scott Kazmir Makes His Bid Count in Starting Rotation Audition

Ron JuckettContributor IIIMarch 12, 2013

Feb 19, 2013; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians pitcher Scott Kazmir poses for a picture during photo day at the Indians Spring Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Kazmir wants to be the fifth starter for the Cleveland Indians.

After Monday’s four–inning, scoreless performance against the Los Angeles Angels, he may have made a successful case.

Against a full roster—minus Albert Pujols and Mike Trout—Kazmir shut the Angels down.

In his stint, Kazmir allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four in what ended up to be a scoreless tie. If Indians manager Terry Francona thought he had a hole at the back end of his rotation, Kazmir’s outing may have started to fill it.

A non-roster invitee, the 29-year-old left-handed starter is looking to earn his way back into the major leagues. The first-round pick of the New York Mets in 2002, Kazmir made the majors two years later as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

By 2007—his third full season—Kazmir started a league-leading 34 games and led the American League in strikeouts with 239. After making back-to-back All-Star games in 2007 and 08, Kazmir was a leading member of the Rays team that won the pennant.

It was in that World Series, however, Kazmir showed major control problems which, along with injuries, led to his departure out of Major League Baseball. In two starts against the Philadelphia Phillies, Kazmir walked 10 in just 10.1 innings.

Traded to the Angels in 2009 at the deadline, Kazmir found his way with six magnificent starts down the stretch. A terrible postseason and a dreadful 2010, along with some injuries, cost him his job with Los Angeles.

He has spent the last two years outside the big leagues. In fact, last year, he pitched for the Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters. With a record of 3-6 and an ERA of 5.34, it looked like Kazmir’s dream of coming back was done.

The Cleveland Indians, however, invited him a spot at spring training and he has taken every advantage.

Coming into Monday’s start, Kazmir had pitched four scoreless innings in two relief appearances, giving up no walks and two hits while striking out five.

In his start against the Angels, Kazmir mixed the speed of his pitches well and had very good movement. When he did allow baserunners on, he pitched around trouble effectively and had batters strikeout.

After that performance, he told’s Glenn Moore that he wanted the job.

Once considered by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in all of baseball before the 2005 season, Kazmir can deliver the goods, if healthy.

He may not be able to ever throw 200 innings or contend in the strikeout race again, but good left-handed pitching is very hard to find. Kazmir could be on the verge of reinventing himself into a much-needed commodity.

If so, then the Indians are the lucky beneficiaries.