In 2008, the upstart Tampa Bay Rays made it all the way to the World Series. The team, which had then-24-year-old lefty Scott Kazmir on its pitching staff, was the surprise of MLB as a blend of young stars and veterans became an AL East powerhouse.
Seven years later, Kazmir is 31 and a key figure on the upstart Houston Astros – and he sees similarities between this year’s team and that amazing Rays club from 2008.
Said Kazmir of those Rays: “Early on it was tough just because we weren’t really that good. It was tough to just get 70 wins until the 2007 season."
Then, however, everything clicked: “After that it got really fun. A lot of guys got called up at the same time. It was kind of like the group that this is right here, just a bunch of young guys that are looking to prove themselves.”
Kazmir even drew a parallel between the Rays’ young star at the time, Evan Longoria, and the Astros’ biggest story at the moment: phenom Carlos Correa.
Kazmir: “It’s almost like Longoria (was) like Correa, that X-factor, that guy that made a difference. When he got called up it seemed like everybody was progressing and ready to go.”
Entering play Wednesday, Houston sits atop the AL West at 65-55, protecting a 2.5-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels. Whether this club makes good on the promise identified by Kazmir remains to be seen, but they’re definitely in a good spot at the moment.