Javier Vazquez

Declining fastball velocity makes Javier Vazquez no sure thing to bounce back in Florida

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Javier Vazquez signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the Marlins has seemingly everyone assuming that he’ll fare well going back to the NL and away from New York, and admittedly that was my first thought as well.

After all, Vazquez has a 4.02 ERA in eight career seasons in the NL, compared to 4.65 in four AL seasons, and was an elite starter for the Braves in 2009 with a 2.87 ERA in 219 innings.

However, as David Cameron of Fan Graphs notes Vazquez’s struggles with the Yankees may have had more to do with his declining fastball velocity than his inability to pitch in New York.

His average fastball fell from 91.1 miles per hour in 2009 to 88.7 mph this season as Vazquez posted the lowest ground-ball percentage of his career and served up 34 homers in just 157 innings while batters made contact on more than 80 percent of their swings against him for the first time.

Going from the AL to the NL and from the Yankees’ power-boosting ballpark to the Marlins’ pitcher-friendly home will no doubt help Vazquez, but at age 35 and with his fastball ranking among the slowest in baseball this season it’s also possible that he’s simply no longer as good as he used to be.

Albert Pujols passes Mark McGwire with 584th career home run

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a double during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 14-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.

Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.

Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.

Zach Britton allowed an earned run for the first time since April 30

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22:  Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches for his 38th save in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 22, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Oriole won 4-3.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.

The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.

Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.