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.

Shelby Miller left Sunday’s start with forearm tightness

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Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller left Sunday’s start against the Dodgers after four-plus innings due to tightness in his right forearm, the team announced. He’ll be reevaluated tomorrow. Needless to say, though, a forearm injury is very concerning. In his four innings, Miller gave up three runs on four hits and five walks with three strikeouts, raising his ERA to 4.09.

Miller, 26, has had a nightmare of a time since joining the Diamondbacks in December 2015. Last year, he made 20 starts and posted a 6.15 ERA. He suffered a finger injury suffered from scraping his hand on the pitcher’s mound with his follow-through, and he was also demoted to Triple-A during the summer as well.

Ivan Nova finally issued his first walk. It was to an AL pitcher taking his first major league at-bat.

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Pirates starter Ivan Nova has been outstanding in his first three starts of the 2017 season. He yielded only five earned runs in 20 innings for a tidy 2.25 ERA. But even more impressively, Nova didn’t issue a walk in any of those starts.

That changed on Sunday afternoon against the Yankees, but in a most peculiar way. Nova had struck out the side in the first inning, notched a 1-2-3 frame in the second, and got two quick ground outs to begin the third inning, bringing up Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery for his first major league at-bat. Montgomery never batted in the minor leagues, either, so Sunday’s AB against Nova was his first since his senior year of high school in 2011. Montgomery took the first two pitches for balls, then a called strike, a ball, and another called strike to even the count. Nova came in with his sixth consecutive fastball but it missed low, walking the Yankees’ pitcher for his first free pass of the 2017 season.

Nova got out of the inning without any further issue. He wound up going seven innings, giving up a lone run on four hits and a walk with seven strikeouts, lowering his ERA to an even 2.00.