Dodgers Roster: What Ever Happened to Scott Kazmir?

It seems like an eternity, but it’s only been just shy of two years since the Dodgers signed veteran southpaw starter Scott Kazmir to a 3-year/$48 million deal that left many fans excited about a prospective rotation upgrade.

At the time, the Los Angeles rotation was in a semi-rebuilding state, and there really wasn’t much to write home about outside of staff ace Clayton Kershaw. Before the 2016 season began, left-handers Brett Anderson and Alex Wood figured to be prominent parts of the starting crew, however, a large epidemic of injuries would eventuallyt force the management crew to utilize arms like Carlos Frias, Mike Bolsinger, Bud Norris and Nick Tepesch during different intervals of the year.

When he was initially signed, Kaz was coming off a season when he went 7-11 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.208 WHIP in 31 starts between Oakland and Houston, recording 155 strikeouts and 59 walks in 183 innings of work. Prior to that, nagging injuries led to inconsistencies from 2008-2011, and eventually forced Kazmir out of the MLB entirely. He latched on with the Indians during the 2013 season and went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA over 29 starts. The following season with the Athletics, he posted a 15-9 record over 190-1/3 innings and 32 starts.

His career as a Dodger started out relatively decent in 2016, as he and newly acquired righty Kenta Maeda were the workhorses of the rotation early in the year, as they both performed admirably during the summer months when Kershaw was on the shelf with back issues. Kazmir’s body would never hold up throughout the entire 2016 campaign, though, as he was forced to the disabled list in August with neck and back issues. After the season was said and done, he made 26 starts, having gone 10-6 with a 4.56 ERA, but he averaged just a mere 5-1/3 innings per outing.

His contract gave him the chance to opt out after the 2016 season and pursue free agency, however, the Houston native decided to stay with the Blue Crew with a optimistic attitude for 2017.

“Bottom line, this is the place I want to be,” Kazmir said during 2017 spring training. “I’m three weeks ahead of schedule. I want to be at the top of that rotation. The way things went last year, I have a chip on my shoulder, and I want to prove to the fans and the front office that brought me here that they made the right decision.”

Regardless of his optimism, it was only a few weeks into 2017 Cactus League play when the lefty started having problems with his hip, which would ultimately prevent him from making a single big league appearance all season.

Things got so bad, that the team sent him to a “body mechanics” specialist in July with hopes of getting him back on track, but after making a few rehab starts in early autumn, Kazmir seemingly faded into the sunset as his teammates embarked on a deep run into the postseason.

Now, as 2018 spring training is quickly approaching, many fans are wondering what lies ahead for the soon-to-be 34-year-old southpaw.

An early version of the Los Angeles 2018 starting five sets up as Kershaw as the headliner, followed by Wood and Rich Hill, with Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu at the back-end—an identical model of the rotation that carried the team to first half success in 2017 before the arrival of Yu Darvish. Veteran righty Brandon McCarthy will also be around, as he is embarking on the final year of a 4-year/$48 million dollar deal, although a club option for 2019 does exist. Brock Stewart will once again begin as the spare arm on the fringe, while Walker Buehler may get some looks at some point in the year. If this is the season that he can stay healthy, righty sinkerballer Trevor Oaks may finally garner some consideration to make his long-awaited big league debut as well.

If he’s healthy, and as long as he shows some type of value early, Kazmir will be part of the picture also, at least in the beginning of the season. If injuries persist and the mechanical problems stay prevalent, though, it wouldn’t be surprising if he becomes a DFA candidate, as spots on the club’s 40-man roster will certainly be at a premium. In similar situations in previous years, the front office showed no mercy in eating the exorbitant salaries of players like Brian WilsonBrandon League and Carl Crawford.

For now, the best things that Kaz can do are to keep himself fit and limber, while maintaining a positive attitude heading into 2018 spring camp. Yet, even if he’s firing on all cylinders, there are absolutely no guarantees for a roster spot, especially when considering the depth of the organization’s starting pitching.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

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Dodgers Injury Notes: A Full Strength Squad Is Not Far Away

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Even though the Dodgers are cruising along just fine, achieving 90 wins by the date of August 24th — a feat only two other teams in history have accomplished — and having a 13 game lead on the next closest MLB team in the Houston Astros, the club still has some of its key players on the disabled list.

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Dodgers Injury Notes: González, Ryu, Liberatore, Hatcher & More

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It’s really not that difficult to inadvertently overlook the injuries of the Dodgers considering the club’s most recent string of success; however, looking ahead, the overall health of the squad could become a critical factor during the stretch run of the regular season and into the playoffs.

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Dodgers Injury Notes: McCarthy, Kazmir, Gutierrez, Hatcher & More

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Fans of the Dodgers breathed a sigh of relief earlier this week as Corey Seager‘s injury was not quite as bad as it could have been, allowing the shortstop to avoid the disabled list. Seager returned to the lineup Thursday night in Anaheim and went 0-for-4. He was replaced in the sixth inning by Enrique Hernandez to give him a rest. It was a week ago when Seager first felt tightness in his hamstring after a swing, and he exited that game after two innings. He spent this week testing his hamstring on and off the field, and was said to be available off the bench, although he was never used. Before the injury, he was sporting a .329/.433/.605 slash line with six doubles and five home runs in June alone.

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Dodgers Injury Notes: Romo, González, Urías, Kazmir & More

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With the official halfway point of the 2017 season now only a few weeks away, the injury report of the Dodgers is beginning to show a few signs of improvement, although a handful of the lingering ailments are of the more severe nature and are considered long term.

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Dodgers Injury Notes: McCarthy, Wood, Pederson, Turner, Ethier & More

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Another day, another injury to a player on the Dodgers. Or at least it seems that way, especially to the pitching staff. The latest to incur an injury is starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy. He left Thursday’s game after four innings with a blister on his right index finger.

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Dodgers Injury Notes: Turner, Segedin, Ethier, Stewart & More

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There’s plenty of good news heading into this weekend’s injury report, with the possible return of third baseman Justin Turner sometime next week capturing the headlines of many Dodgers outlets across the baseball blogosphere. What’s more, the current injury count on the disabled list has finally dwindled down to the single digits, a trend that many hope continues into the summer months.

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Dodgers Injury Notes: Gutierrez, Forsythe, Ryu, Segedin & More

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While many fans of the Dodgers were hoping that the team’s general bill of health would begin to improve heading into the first full week of May, the injury report continues to be a revolving door of wounded players. With a bit of luck, though, a few may conceivably return relatively soon as the club hopes to avoid yet another week of double digits on the disabled list.

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Dodgers Injury Notes: Joc Pederson, Logan Forsythe, Andre Ethier & More

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After Saturday evening’s come-from-behind, walk-off victory against the Phillies, many who are close to the Dodgers, including skipper Dave Roberts himself, believe that the monumental win has potentially infused a bit of momentum, and conceivably could be the one contest that may spearhead a new direction for the squad.

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Dodgers Injury News: Andre Ethier, Scott Kazmir, Franklin Gutierrez & More

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While there are still a few lingering issues that have affected the general makeup of the big league 25-man roster, injuries have not had a significant impact on the overall performance of the Dodgers so far in 2017. Veteran lefty Rich Hill is prepared to be reinstated from the 10-day disabled list to face the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon, and with a little bit of good fortune, one or two other players may soon follow in his footsteps.

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