Astros err in letting Scott Kazmir start sixth

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Scott Kazmir went winless with a 6.52 ERA in six September starts. He allowed 41 hits, eight of them homers, in 29 innings, posting an 18/11 K/BB ratio. When the Astros got five innings of two-run ball from him Friday against the Royals, they should have thanked their good fortune and moved right along to the pen.

And they knew this. They must have. Josh Fields got up in the pen after Kazmir issued a one-out walk in the fifth. The left-hander got out of the frame, making himself eligible for the victory in what was then a 4-2 game, but it was still very surprising to see him come back out for the sixth, particularly with the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist (.926 OPS against lefties) and right-handed Lorenzo Cain due up.

Kazmir retired Zobrist, but he gave up a double to Cain. He was then pulled, even with the left-handed Eric Hosmer coming up. Manager A.J. Hinch had committed my biggest baseball pet peeve: he sent his starter back to the mound with the idea of pulling him after his first mistake.

It worked out terribly. Oliver Perez gave up a pair of soft hits to Hosmer and Kendrys Morales before walking Mike Moustakas. Fields then entered and walked the unwalkable Salvador Perez to tie the game at 4. The Astros gave up another run in the seventh and lost the game 5-4.

Maybe that’s the way it would have worked out anyway. Kazmir did give up just the one baserunner. It might not have even harmed the Astros if Perez had better luck.

Still, the thinking that went into the decision was disturbing. It’s always better to bring that reliever in with no one on base when you can. That’s especially the case with this Astros pen, which lacks a double-play specialist, much less a Wade Davis. But anyone in that pen would have been a better choice than sending Kazmir out to face Zobrist and Cain for a third time. Hinch needs to be more aggressive going forward.

Shelby Miller likely to make season debut on Monday

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The Diamondbacks announced that the club optioned starter Matt Koch to Triple-A Reno after Tuesday night’s game. According to Nick Piecoro of Azcentral Sports, Shelby Miller will likely be activated from the 60-day disabled list to start against the Marlins on Monday.

Miller, 27, has been out since late April of 2017 after undergoing and rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander has had a rough time since coming to the Diamondbacks in a trade with the Braves, starting 24 games since the beginning of the 2016 season with a 5.78 ERA and a 90/54 K/BB ratio in 123 innings.

That trade, consummated on December 9, 2015, is certainly one the D-Backs would like to take back. They received Miller and Gabe Speier from the Braves and gave up Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson, and Aaron Blair.

Koch, 27, made 12 starts and one relief appearance this season, compiling a 4.40 ERA with a 38/17 K/BB ratio in 71 2/3 innings.