The Houston Astros pulled the trigger on a big deal Thursday, acquiring lefty Scott Kazmir from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor-leaguers Daniel Mengden and Jacob Nottingham in a deal that officially started 'Hot Stove' season for MLB.
In Kazmir, the Astros obtained a reliable, veteran presence and at-times dominant arm to complement ace Dallas Keuchel and right-handers Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers and Scott Feldman. In fact, Kazmir will take the mound in Kansas City on Friday night for his Houston debut as the Astros battle the Royals.
That news, coupled with the fact that Houston has gotten off to a strong second-half start made for a pretty pumped-up clubhouse on Thursday afternoon.
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MLB.com's Chandler Rome spoke to a few Astros about the deal. George Springer, who is 0-10 career against Kazmir at the plate, is happy to have him on his side now: "I finally don't have to face him. So that's obviously fun. [Kazmir] can just do a lot of things. He can make you feel uncomfortable in the box and swing at stuff you don't want to swing at. Any time we can add a guy like that to help us out is big."
McHugh, who knows a thing or two about confidence and frame of mind on the mound, is an admirer of Kazmir's pitching style. As he said to Rome, "What he's been able to do to us over the last year is pretty good, he's been pretty special watching him. To have him get the ball for us instead of another team is a nice little boost. ... He's just a battler, too, he just goes out there and competes."
There were also a handful of social media posts from Astros personnel pertaining to the deal, such as some Tweets from Keuchel, shortstop phenom Carlos Correa and Kazmir himself:
Manager A.J. Hinch also spoke with Rome about the acquisition, being sure to keep it all in proper context as the Astros try to stay hot and retake control of the AL West: "Having another starter who's difficult to score against, who's having a terrific season and pitches deep into games, [is a] Houston native, there's so many storylines that are good about it. But the most important one is that he can help us win games. And these next 60-plus games are important to win."
With Kazmir, the Astros picked up one of the most highly-sought pitching commodities on the market, and it should help their rotation be even deadlier down the stretch.