Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Scott Kazmir will make his first career start against the Mets tonight, nine years, one month, and eight days after the Mets traded the budding prospect for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato. The trade will always be remembered as one of the worst in Mets history, as Kazmir went on to have four very good seasons for the Devil Rays-turned Rays. Meanwhile, Zambrano had a decent 2005, but one day after striking out Andruw Jones in 2006, jogged off the mound and into the clubhouse after facing just four batters, never to be seen again, at least not in a Mets uniform.
After a few years with the Rays, however, the concerns that led the Mets to trade Kazmir flared up. He didn’t go deep into starts. He got repeatedly injured. In 2009, the roller coaster that was his career took a whole new turn. After posting a 5.92 ERA in the first half, he was dealt to the Angels where, at 25 years old, it became evident that his career was in danger. Over the next four years, Kazmir made only 55 starts, posting an ERA of 5.54 and striking out a little more than six batters per nine innings.
This season, the Clevland Indians took a chance on the journeyman lefty, signing him to a minor league deal, one which has paid off tenfold for the Indians. After winning the fifth starter job out of spring training, Kazmir now has a 4.36 ERA over 130 innings. Even more impressive, he has seen his velocity rise back into the mid-90s. When he auditioned for scouts in 2012, his fastball was clocked around 86 to 87 miles per hour. This year, according to PitchF/X, he is averaging 93.54 on his four-seam fastball this season.
With Matt Harvey‘s injury opening a big void in the Met rotation, a reunion with Kazmir may make sense for the team. He is a step up from the Mike Pelfreys and Chris Youngs of the world, meaning he will be more of a sure thing, yet still cheap, allowing the Mets to address needs in the outfield, and at shortstop and third base without having to spend a large chunk of their budget on a replacement for Harvey.