Scott Kazmir is back and better than ever

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Scott Kazmir finished last season very strong with a 2.57 ERA and 43/4 K/BB ratio in five September starts and pitched well overall for the Indians, but when it came time to cash in as a free agent teams proved skeptical about his career being back on track after he fell all the way down to independent ball.

Kazmir ended up signing a two-year, $22 million deal with the A’s, which was less than half of what fellow free agent starters like Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza, and Rickey Nolasco got and even a step below the money that went to clearly inferior talents like Scott Feldman and Jason Vargas.

Now the A’s look brilliant for taking the risk on Kazmir and the 30-year-old left-hander looks every bit like the dominant pitcher who starred for the Rays from 2004-2008. Last night Kazmir tossed seven innings of two-run ball against the Red Sox, improving to 9-2 with a 2.08 ERA on the season. Dating back to June 20 of last season–one calendar year–Kazmir has started 33 games with a 2.59 ERA and 187/44 K/BB ratio in 198 innings while allowing just 13 homers.

Kazmir went four years without being an effective big leaguer and two of those seasons without throwing a single pitch in the majors, but now at age 30 he looks as good as ever.

Matt Shoemaker out for the season with a torn ACL

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Terrible news for Blue Jays pitcher Matt Shoemaker: the MRI he had on his knee revealed a torn ACL. He’ll need surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.

Shoemaker was in the process of holding the A’s scoreless through three innings of three-hit, one-strikeout ball in his start on Saturday. He twisted his leg awkwardly when he ran over and tagged Matt Chapman between first and second base, however, and it was immediately clear that things weren’t right. He was initially diagnosed with a sprain, but the MRI showed that it was worse.

This is a tough break for Shoemaker, who had started off the season pretty fantastically, posting a 1.57 ERA over his first five starts this year.