On Sunday afternoon against Oakland, Scott Kazmir struggled in his second consecutive game, despite being giving more than a week off between starts. On the whole this season, Kazmir have been much greater than expected (easy to do when nothing is expected), making 22 starts, winning seven and striking out 107 in 119 innings along the way. While he has struggled sporadically, his last two starts were the first time this season he had two very bad games in a row, allowing 10 runs in just eight innings across the two starts. This, combined with his admitted tiredness (aka dead arm), should make everyone wonder exactly how much left he has in the tank.
One reason this season has been so impressive for Kazmir is that he spent all of 2012 outside of Major League baseball, throwing just 64 innings for the Suger Land Skeeters, an Independent Atlantic League team. In 2011, things weren't much different with injuries forcing him to throw just 18 innings between the Angels and AAA Salt Lake City.
If a young pitcher was just coming into the league and had thrown only 82 innings in the previous two seasons, he would likely be coddled by keeping to strict pitch and inning counts. No such talk has surrounded Kazmir (a ten year veteran), who is just as much at risk of injury or break down as any rookie. If the Indians can act quickly and decisively, Kazmir could be moved into the bullpen before his next start, still being able to help his team through the rest of the season. From this position he would only need to throw about 10 more innings instead of the minimum of 35 he would be expected to throw if he stayed in the starting rotation. He would also likely be more effective in this role, being able to give each pitch 100% effort, making good use of his mid-90 MPH fast ball.
The Indians don't need to worry about pitching depth in his absence either. Carlos Carrasco is already with the team as long reliever and could immediately move into the rotation. If he doesn't suit the Indians needs, they could always go back to Trevor Bauer, who has remained in AAA since his last start in late June. The Indians could even make use of the two off days left in August and go with a four man rotation until September starts. On September first the Indians would be able to bring up as many pitchers as they wanted to with the expanded rosters. This could even include Josh Tomlin, who is almost done rehabbing after his Tommy John surgery last season.
Any of these options is preferable to continually throwing Scott Kazmir out there until his arm breaks down for good. He has shown already this season that his career doesn't need to be over, but it would be hard for the 29 year old to sustain another injury and be forced through another long come back attempt. The Indians owe it to Kazmir to treat him with respect after all he has given the team this year and the best way to keep him safe and still involved is by removing him from the rotation and placing him in the bullpen.