Fantasy Baseball end-game super sleeper: Scott Kazmir

      March 15, 2013 @ 18:34:30 PDT

I participated in the Triple Crown American League-only 12-team auction draft with a host of industry experts this past Monday night. I won't go over my entire team from the three and a half hour marathon draft (you're welcome!). I just want to discuss one pick, albeit one that most might laugh at me for making… Oh well.

I got the bidding started by buying Justin Verlander for $32. For me, that was a very good price for arguably the best pitcher in baseball. That thought was backed up when his teammate, Max Scherzer, was purchased for $29 shortly after.

Cleveland Indians SP Scott Kazmir
Back to the glory days?

Verlander isn't the pitcher I wanted to chat about, though. Sorry, I already digress…

So Verlander was my first pick at $32. My very last pick went for just a buck, naturally, and it netted me a pitcher named Scott Kazmir. Kazmir, you say?!?! Yep, that Scott Kazmir. The one that fanned 174 hitters in his rookie season in 2005 and struck out a whopping 239 batters two years later with the Tampa Bay Rays.

He was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim two years after that and quickly flamed out, posting a 5.94 ERA and a 9-15 record in 28 starts in his only full season with the Halos. He was released after just one start in 2011.

It's now spring of 2013 and Kazmir, who, believe it or not, is only 29 years old, is a different man. "Night and day difference," he said. "Just a completely different pitcher." The southpaw made some undisclosed mechanical adjustments, and they are showing in camp; he's tossed 11 shutout innings with 13 K's mostly against major league quality players. He's throwing in the low-90s again, too, which is very encouraging.

I'm getting giddy every day that Kazmir remains in contention for the team's final rotation spot. And now the Tribe is saying he may be the front-runner! Oh, that dollar investment could really pay off. After all, it's just a dollar, and if you can make a similar investment in Kazmir, what will it hurt?

Carlos Carrasco is coming off major elbow reconstruction in 2011 and probably shouldn't be rushed back, Trevor Bauer is young and inexperienced and Daisuke Matsuzaka is showing he can't stay healthy or consistently throw strikes. That leaves Kazmir. If he indeed has been rejuvenated close to his form when he was with the Rays, he could really surprise some folks this year.

Skipper Terry Francona was managing the Red Sox in those days when Kazmir would consistently terrorize Boston, so he knows all too well what Kazmir can do when he's right. Francona typically has favored players that have a track record over unknown commodities, too, which gives Kazmir another advantage.

Heck, Kazmir might even be worth the gamble in the last few rounds in mixed universes this year. In AL-only leagues he's definitely worth tossing a buck at. After all, he's been successful before in the major so it's not crazy to think he could do it again, right?

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About Keith Hernandez

Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.

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