The Indians and Scott Kazmir have expressed mutual interest in continuing their relationship, reports Chris Assenheimer of the Chronicle-Telegram. Kazmir has been a boon to the Indians’ pitching staff, finishing the season with a 4.04 ERA in 158 innings spanning 29 starts. The lefty averaged about a strikeout per inning pitched and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 3.5 to one.
It is especially impressive that Kazmir was on his way out of baseball, spending the 2012 season with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent league. In 64 innings with the Skeeters, he posted a 5.34 ERA with mediocre strikeout and walk rates.
Kazmir will turn 30 years old in January, which is a bit shocking considering everything he has experienced in his career already. As a top prospect in the Mets’ system, Kazmir was involved in one of the more controversial trades of the 2000’s, going to the Rays in the Victor Zambrano trade. With the Rays, Kazmir had immense success, helping them reach the World Series in 2008, where they lost to the Phillies. From 2005-08, he had a 3.51 ERA. In August 2009, the Rays sent him to the Angels, capitalizing on the lefty’s value before he hit free agency. Kazmir wasn’t the same. From 2009-11, he posted a 5.51 ERA. The Indians are hoping the worst is behind Kazmir and he can provide them a few years of reliable service in the latest chapter of his career.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.