Scott Kazmir got knocked around by the Astros in his first start of the season, which made it seem like his comeback with the Indians was destined to fail, but he’s actually been pretty good since then and turned in a very impressive start this afternoon against the A’s.
Kazmir tossed six innings of one-run ball versus Oakland, walking zero and striking out 10 for his first double-digit strikeout game since way back in August of 2009. That day he struck out 10 against a Blue Jays lineup that included Marco Scutaro leading off, Vernon Wells batting third, and Kevin Millar hitting cleanup.
Since then Kazmir had thrown 202 innings with a 5.38 ERA and 134/98 K/BB ratio. But now he’s allowed two runs or fewer in three consecutive starts while compiling a 21/3 K/BB ratio in 17 innings. And he’s still just 29 years old.
Two guys who spent some time in the bigs but who have found more success in Asia have decided to stay in Asia.
Darin Ruf has re-signed with the Samsung Lions of KBO, per MLB Trade Rumors. Ruf, who played five years for the Phillies but didn’t really have the numbers to stick, has stuck just fine in Korea. In two seasons in the offense-friendly league he has hit 64 homers and has put up a line of .322/.412/.587. His new deal with Samsung will pay him a guaranteed $1.4 million with $300K in potential bonuses.
The other guy — Nick Martinez — has signed a $2.5 million plus incentives deal to stay with the Nippon Ham Fighters of NPB. The former Rangers starter went 10-11 with a 3.51 ERA for the Fighters in 2018. He was 17-30 with a 4.77 ERA in four seasons with Texas.
Maybe Ruf and Martinez still have U.S. major league dreams, but guaranteed bucks in the Korean and Japanese majors is better than signing minor league deals and riding busses here.