As detailed in the literary version of Moneyball, the 2002 fresh out of high school incarnation of the southpaw wasn’t of the “slightest interest” to Beane and company, as the scarlet letter of being a high school pitcher essentially made Kazmir a leper. Fast-forward some 14 years later, and Oakland’s mentality regarding high school players has not only shifted–but evidently so too have their feelings toward Kazmir.
After inking the former Ray to a two-year, $22 mm deal in the winter, Oakland will turn to the 30-year old to fill the rather large veteran shoes vacated by the departing Bartolo Colon in the starting rotation. While expecting Kazmir to replicate the stellar 2013 season of the All-Star Colon may be unrealistic, the Athletics will bank on him to continue where he left off last year in Cleveland, highlighted by an impressive second half.
Lost and nearly forgotten by the game, Kazmir emerged from a two-year injury spun cocoon of the Independent League to claim a spot in the Indians rotation last spring. Rediscovering the velocity that had mysteriously abandoned him during a failed tenure in Anaheim, Kazmir regained his 92 mph fastball and utilized the pitch as he grew stronger with each passing month. After posting a 4.60 ERA during the first half of 2013 with 8.4 K/9, the veteran upped his performance during the season’s final stages boasting a 3.38 ERA with 10.3 K/9 in his final 13 starts to contribute to the Indians surprising Wild Card run.
For the season, Kazmir finished with an average of 9.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, with a 4.04 ERA, 3.51 FIP, and 40.9% ground ball rate in 158 innings pitched. His workload represented his highest innings total since 2007, and placed him back on the baseball map as he headed into free agency, and ultimately his new home in Oakland. With the Athletics he should settle in as the number three starter, behind projected opening day starter Jarrod Parker and pitching wunderkind Sonny Gray as he attempts to continue his resurgence in 2014.