It has been a pretty tumultuous offseason for the Dodgers as they have had the unfortunate luck of having a trade fall through and missed out on just about everyone one their high profile free agent targets. But, they seem to have finally signed someone that should help in repairing they value they have lost so far.
They inked, Scott Kazmir, today with the hopes that he can slot in in the rotation and help Clayton Kershaw carry the load that Zack Greinke left with his departure. Now I know for Dodgers fans Kazmir will not move the excitement dial by any means, but he has proven over the last two seasons that he can contribute and stabilize a rotation.
As most of us already know, Kazmir’s career has been quite the interesting one as he went from blossoming ace in Tampa to out of the league a mere few years later. He made his comeback in 2014, and has not looked back since while reestablishing the signs of promise he had once shown.
Last season was really a tale of two halves, as with the Athletics he was ace like, but when he was dished to the Astros the wheels came off some and he scuffled to end the season. So, what do we value more the 18 starts with the A’s where he posted a 2.38 ERA or the 13 starts with the Astros where he sported a 4.17 ERA?
I for one, am going to value the former more but also take into account that his struggles were of notice. In his two years Oakland, Kazmir had been rock steady and a solid fantasy contributor that owners could snag late in drafts. Over those two years he managed, 20 W/2.74 ERA/265 K/300 IP, which is certainly a big enough sample size where we can still see the value he brings.
As most Astros fans will tell you, Kazmir was certainly a disappointment, as it seemed as though the A’s version of the pitcher never actually made it to Houston. Now whether it be the fact that he was pitching in front of his hometown or the pressure of being in a playoff race, that fact remains that he looked a shell of himself during that time.
While there is no real glaring reason why he started struggling, he simply just got hit more in Houston and suffered from the long ball as well. This is why the move to L.A. should help Kazmir regain his form and get back to the production we saw the first half of last season.
First, Dodgers Stadium is much more pitcher friendly than Minute Maid Park, where every fly ball seems to have the chance to leave the park. With Oakland over nearly two season he only gave up 23 HR combined, where last season he gave up 13 just with the Astros. Clearly leading one to believe that Kazmir benefits from more spacious confines at this point of his career.
Then there is also the fact that he will pitching in the NL for the first time which comes with the benefit of having weaker lineups instead of the consistent barrage of AL lineups and the DH. Now with HR surrendered being one of the hardest factors to predict when it comes to pitchers thanks in part to their volatility and fluctuation, there are some further stats that seem to point to Kazmir not completely falling off next season.
By looking at all his peripherals, there was really only one big spike when he made the move to the Astros and that was he began to give up more flyballs, which in turn, wound up leaving the ballpark at a rate unseen in Oakland. Everything else aligns pretty much in accordance to how was pitching in Oakland and the only other dip was in his K per game which dropped about 1 per game.
Leading me to deduce that Kazmir did not stop doing what made him successful in the first half, he rather just ran into a smaller ballpark and just paid for more of his mistakes than he could get away with in Oakland. His skill set is not changing and his pitch usage charts are pretty consistent over the course of the year, so I do not think this is a matter of a pitcher whose stuff is starting to deteriorate.
The only red flag that owners need to take into account with owning Kazmir, is that he tends to struggle during the latter half of the season. This marks the second year in a row, where his dominant first half production has regressed. So owners who take Kazmir in the spring, will need to keep an eye out if the second half struggles return in 2016.
Los Angeles would probably be amongst the top three location fantasy owners could have wanted Kazmir to go as it serves a great location for him to get back on track in 2016 and erase the second half of last season. He has been a pleasant surprise for owners the last two seasons, and I do not see why he should not be able to repeat that value again next season.
He is not a SP1-3, but he is a great backend starter who offers solid ratios that could steady owner’s rotation for the first half of the season at least. Pitching is deep and people will be scared off from him struggles with Houston, allowing owners the ability to get Kazmir cheap which is certainly a pick worth making.
2016 Early Projection: 14 W/3.30 ERA/160 K/1.10 WHIP