Scott Kazmir makes his Houston Astros debut Friday against the mighty Kansas City Royals. Kazmir's pitched very well this year, but the MLB odds are with Kansas City.
Jason's 2015 record as of July 23: 35-27, plus-8.36 units ML; 0-3, minus-3.30 units Total
Not too long ago, the Houston Astros were rumored to be in the market for pitcher Johnny Cueto. Apparently they didn't want to wait; on Thursday, the Astros picked up Scott Kazmir from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for a pair of minor-leaguers. Lo and behold, Kazmir will make his Houston debut this Friday night (8:10 p.m. ET) when the Astros visit the Kansas City Royals.
Nice, but the baseball odds are still on Kansas City's side. As we go to press, the Royals are favored at around –130, with Jeremy Guthrie scheduled to take the mound at Kaufmann Stadium. Really? Jeremy Guthrie over Scott Kazmir? Interesting. Then again, Kazmir does have a lot more work to do to prepare for Friday's game. Let's see whether it's enough work to influence our MLB picks.
Kansas City, Here I Come
Kazmir (3.09 FIP) was supposed to start for the A's Thursday night in Oakland against the Toronto Blue Jays. Instead, he packed his bags and headed for Kansas City to face an entirely new opponent. At least the Athletics were playing the sixth game of a six-game homestand, so it'll have been about a week in between flights for Kazmir. But this is still a major disruption to his routine.
Aside from that, Kazmir has easily had the better season of the two pitchers in question. He's been consistently good for almost three years now, returning from his 2012 stint in the independent leagues with more zip on his fastball and an improved slider. Despite his efforts, the A's were just 8-10 in Kazmir's starts for a loss of 4.28 units; the money should start flowing in the other direction now that he's being supported by the No. 9-ranked batting order in the majors (13.4 WAR). Oakland was No. 22 in hitting (9.7 WAR) going into Thursday's action.
Whispers in the Palms
Guthrie (4.70 FIP) has a couple of things going for him. One, he went to Stanford. Two, he's been remarkably healthy since joining the bigs in 2004. That's about all we can say in his favor, yet the Royals are up 7.16 units in Guthrie's 18 starts on a team record of 12-6. That's what having the No. 3-ranked batting order (18.2 WAR) in the majors can do for you.
Current Houston hitters have a combined .847 OPS versus Guthrie. There are two Astros catchers who've really lit him up: Jason Castro (4-for12 with two homers) and Hank Conger (4-for-6, one HR). Which one will start Friday's game? We're guessing Castro, since he's a lefty batter and Guthrie's a northpaw. Castro is only 5% owned in Yahoo leagues while he loses more and more starts to Conger (0%); both should still be available in your league on Friday, so keep an eye on the expected lineups as they become available, and may the sphere be with you.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Astros +127 at The Greek