Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a calculated move Saturday in an effort to protect Javier Vazquez’s confidence, bumping the righty from his next scheduled start.
Vazquez pitched a solid seven innings of two-run ball last Wednesday against the Tigers and was in line to take on either the Red Sox or Rays this week. But Girardi made the decision Saturday to have the struggling starter avoid both high-powered offenses. Vazquez, 33, will take on the Mets at Citi Field on Friday instead. From the Newark Star-Ledger:
“We talked amongst ourselves and discussed it,” Girardi said Saturday. “I know
Javy wants to pitch. But that was what we thought was the right
decision at this time.”
Some Yankees fans might want to call it “babying,” but this is a smart move for both the club and Vazquez himself. He is 1-4 this year with an 8.10 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP over six starts and the Yanks continue to battle for the top spot in the American League East with Tampa Bay. They need their best starters on the mound right now and Vazquez — for the time being — is not one of them.
The magic number to clinch a wild card spot is still 1, but the Mets have at least secured a wild card tie after defeating the Phillies 5-1 on Friday night.
Jay Bruce powered the offensive drive, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and his 33rd home run of the season, ripped from an Alec Asher fastball in the seventh inning. On the mound, right-hander Robert Gsellman limited the Phillies to seven hits and one run over six frames, striking out seven batters in his eighth appearance of the year. Behind him, a cadre of Mets relievers turned out three scoreless innings to preserve the lead and anchor the Mets in the wild card standings.
The Cardinals aren’t out of the race quite yet, and can still force a tiebreaker with the Mets if they manage to win the remainder of their games this weekend and the Mets lose the rest of theirs. Any other scenario will ensure the Mets’ exclusive rights to a wild card spot next week. While a wild card clinch is unlikely to happen tonight, with St. Louis leading Pittsburgh 7-0 through 7.5 innings and just entering a rain delay, it remains a distinct possibility over these next two days.
In a season that boasts the likes of Max Scherzer (he of the 20-strikeout masterpiece) and Clayton Kershaw (he of nine separate games with at least 10 strikeouts), there hasn’t been anyone who’s done exactly what Carlos Rodon did this week.
During Friday’s series opener against the Twins, Rodon retired seven consecutive batters via strikeout. His streak — and the beginnings of a perfect game, if you can call it that after just 2 ⅓ frames — ended on a Logan Schafer double that found right field well before Rodon managed to put up two strikes. With seven consecutive strikeouts, Rodon became the first American League pitcher to strike out seven batters to start a game since right-hander Joe Cowley did it for the Sox back in 1986. Had Schafer whiffed on a couple more fastballs, Rodon would have tied Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom for most strikeouts to start a game in major league history.
Not only did Rodon manage to quell the first seven batters in Minnesota’s lineup, but he extended his strikeout streak to 10 consecutive batters dating back through his last start against the Cleveland Indians. Per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, the last major league pitcher to do so was reliever Eric Gagne, who accomplished the feat for the 2003 Dodgers during his first and only Cy Young Award-winning season.
Any way you slice it, this is an impressive look: