Angels stick with Scott Kazmir despite MLB-worst 6.92 ERA

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Scott Kazmir has the highest ERA in baseball among pitchers with at least 50 innings this season, allowing 71 earned runs in 92 frames for a ghastly 6.92 mark. In his final start of the first half Saturday he allowed a franchise-record 13 runs in five innings against an Oakland lineup that ranks among the AL’s worst, making him 0-4 with a 13.72 ERA in his last four outings.
And despite all of that, the Angels are sticking with him in the rotation to begin the second half. Kazmir will start Tuesday against the Yankees in New York, which sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
Kazmir’s struggles date back to last year, when he had a 5.92 ERA in 20 starts for the Rays and showed decreased velocity, averaging a career-low 90.5 miles per hour with his fastball. He pitched well in six starts down the stretch before struggling in the playoffs, but the Angels’ decision to trade infielder Sean Rodriguez and pitching prospect Alex Torres for Kazmir was highly questionable at the time and looks downright terrible now.
Kazmir is making $8 million this season and is still owed $12 million next season plus $13.5 million or a $2.5 million buyout in 2012. Rodriguez has a decent .726 OPS as the Rays’ part-time second baseman and Torres is thriving at Double-A as a 22-year-old. In other words, unless pitching coach Mike Butcher can work some kind of miracle with Kazmir the trade is only going to look worse and worse for the Angels.

The Red Sox start is ridiculous

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The red-hot Red Sox completed a sweep of the previously red-hot Angels last night, outscoring them 27-3 in their three-game series. Last night’s game was, relatively speaking, a close one, with the Sox winning “only” by six runs. They did manage to strike out Shohei Ohtani three times, though, so some style points help make up for the “squeaker.” Also worth noting that they held Mike Trout of all people to a 3-for-11 line in their three-game series. He did not score a single time and drove in no runs.

That series win puts the Sox at 16-2 on the year. They dropped their Opening Day game to the Rays, but then won their next six games against Tampa Bay, which I’d say makes up for it. In between those two series they swept a two-game series from the Marlins and afterwards they took two of three from the Yankees and three in a row from the Orioles. The only thing that even threatened to slow this juggernaut down is the weather, resulting in a postponement of Monday morning’s Patriot’s Day game. Somewhere in here we should notice that they’re doing this with their starting shortstop and starting second baseman on the disabled list.

As we’ve noted many times, their 16-2 record is the best start in the Red Sox’ 118-year history. It’s also the best start for any team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers began 17-1 (let us just forget, for the time being, that those Brewers lost 18 of 20 in May of that year). They are the fourth team since 1961 to win 16 of its first 18 games.

The Sox aren’t simply getting lucky here. They’ve scored 116 runs and have allowed only 50, which is a Pythagorean record of 15-3. They lead all of baseball in offense, scoring 6.44 runs a game, leading individually in average, on-base percentage and slugging. They are only three one hundredths of a run behind the Astros from leading all of baseball in pitching, allowing only 2.78 runs a game. They’re winning all of these games because, in the early going, they’ve simply been that dang much better than everyone they’ve played.

No, the Sox are not going to go 144-18, as they are currently on pace to do. Yes, they are going to find a lot more trouble in their schedule once they play the Orioles, Rays and Marlins less, play a healthier Yankees team more and face off against the Astros, the Blue Jays, the Indians, the Twins and some tougher interleague opponents. This is baseball, obviously, and no one makes it through a season without rough patches, long, short and numerous.

Still: this has been one whale of a start for Boston. Those wins are in the bank. It’s been quite the thing to see.