"He's pitched very well against the Royals this year," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Kazmir. "This is a good ballpark for him to pitch in. This is a big stage. He's been there before. Left-handed pitching against their balanced lineup was something that I looked heavily on."
Kazmir went 1-1 against the Royals in three starts this season, giving up five runs in 21⅓ innings.
Kazmir finished with a combined 7-11 record with a 3.10 ERA between the Astros and Athletics this season, but he struggled down the stretch. He hasn't won since Aug. 22, going 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA in his final six starts of the regular season.
"Kaz has had a very, very good season," Hinch said. "It hasn't been his best September, but as we get into October, trust your players come up big in the big moments."
The Astros also left veteran reliever Chad Qualls, who had a 4.38 ERA this season, off their ALDS roster. The 36-year-old reliever was part of the Astros' last playoff team in 2005, when they reached the World Series.
Royals manager Ned Yost elected to go with a more versatile lineup with Gore, who was part of the bunch that rolled to the World Series with the Royals last season.