When Los Angeles Angels' manager Mike Scioscia announced last Thursday that pitcher Scott Kazmir would open the season as a member of the starting rotation, he was asked by reporters whether or not Kazmir had earned the spot.
“Earned?” Scioscia said. “Define ‘earned.’”
Not exactly a stirring vote of confidence.
However, Kazmir, who struggled last season with a 9-15 record and a 5.94 ERA, is owed $14.5 million this season.
Considering what the Angels gave up in return for him, they are not quite ready to give up on the enigmatic southpaw right away.
However, the wait won’t be long.
The Angels have one of the better starting rotations in the American League with their top four pitchers (Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Joel Pineiro).
But the last thing the Angels can afford is to wonder whether or not they’ll have struggles every fifth day with Kazmir on the mound.
"He's tried a lot of things, but there hasn't been one simple adjustment he's been able to make that has brought consistency," Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times. "We need it. He needs it. We're past the point of development. We need him to pitch the way he's capable of pitching."
If Kazmir is unable to right the ship and return to his form from 2006 to 2008, when he was one of the more dominant left-handed pitchers in baseball, the Angels will need to look for a dependable arm to replace him in the rotation.
Here are five options.
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When Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver in April 2009, the Angels turned to Matt Palmer to fill the void.
Palmer responded, going 11-2 with a 3.93 ERA.
Last season, Palmer was slowed by a shoulder strain that put him on the shelf for three months. He logged only 33.2 innings all season.
This spring, Palmer has worked hard to rebuild arm strength, despite being slowed by a bout of bronchitis.
Last Friday, he worked six strong innings—giving up just one run on four hits—and worked his way back into the starting rotation conversation.
Left-handed pitcher Hisanori Takahashi signed to a two-year, $8 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels during the offseason and he was invaluable to the New York Mets last season.
Takahashi started 12 games for the Mets and finished the season as their closer after the season-ending injury to Francisco Rodriguez.
He ended his first season in the majors with a 10-6 record, eight saves, a 3.61 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 122 innings.
He features four pitches—using a screwball as his out pitch—and could very easily slide back into the starting rotation should Kazmir be unable to return to form.
The Los Angeles Angels were one of several teams to scout free-agent left-handed pitcher Doug Davis in Arizona this past week.
Davis, 35, was 1-4 last season for the Milwaukee Brewers in eight starts, with a 7.51 ERA.
He is 91-101 in his career with a 4.38 ERA.
Davis would most likely be offered a minor league contract—they'll see how he performs at Salt Lake—and be available if Scott Kazmir falters.
While certainly not an attractive option, Davis would be an affordable option.
Tyler Chatwood, the Los Angeles Angels' second-round pick in the 2008 first-year player draft, has been very impressive at the minor league level, posting a 13-9 record with a 2.84 ERA in his two seasons in the Angels’ farm system.
Chatwood, 21, will most likely start the season at the Angels Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees.
However, if he continues his progression at the minor league level, he would certainly be a candidate for the starting rotation sooner rather than later.
Right-handed pitcher Trevor Bell stepped into the starting rotation last season for the Los Angeles Angels when Joel Pineiro went down with a left rib cage strain.
Bell had mixed results, ending the season with a 2-5 record and a 4.72 ERA.
While Bell won’t blow anyone away with nasty stuff, he does feature an array of pitches and he can be an effective innings-eater if called upon.