Back in December the Marlins were hoping a physical therapist could help Javier Vazquez rediscover his fastball velocity after they signed the veteran right-hander to a one-year, $7 million deal.
Normally moving from the AL and hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium to the NL and Florida’s pitcher-friendly ballpark would have made Vazquez a strong bounceback candidate, but as I wrote at the time 35-year-old pitchers coming off a season in which they had a 5.32 ERA and averaged 88.7 miles per hour with their fastball aren’t great bets for much of anything.
Sure enough Vazquez has struggled and after an ugly start against the Phillies last night he has a 6.88 ERA and .312 opponents’ batting average through seven outings. Even more worrisome than the bloated ERA is Vazquez’s terrible 16/22 K/BB ratio, which includes zero strikeouts versus Philadelphia.
Vazquez’s fastball has declined even further, clocking in at an average of 88.2 miles per hour, and after last night’s loss he was very frustrated when speaking to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:
I wish I had an explanation, but I’ve got nothing. Just frustrating. I’m embarrassed the way I’m throwing. Things aren’t happening right now for me. Nothing’s going right, so we’ve just got to keep working hard, battling, and hopefully I’ll get through this. If not, then I’ll be in trouble.
If you take Vazquez’s seven starts out of the mix the rest of the Marlins’ rotation is 10-3 with a 3.15 ERA.
Update (11:09 PM EDT):
From unlucky to lucky, the Cardinals maintained their position in the National League Wild Card race with walk-off victory over the Reds on Thursday night.
The Cardinals went into the top of the ninth with a 3-2 lead over the Reds, but saw the game tied when Scott Schebler dribbled a two-strike, two out ground ball down the third base line. It seemed as if the baseball gods had turned their backs on the Cardinals.
In the bottom of the ninth against reliever Blake Wood, Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk. Randal Grichuk then struck out, leaving all of the Cardinals’ hopes on Yadier Molina. Molina went ahead 2-0 in the count, then ripped a 95 MPH fastball to left field. The ball bounced high and over the left field fence for what seemed like an obvious ground-rule double. Carpenter motored around third base and scored the winning run.
The Cardinals poured onto the field in celebration and the umpires walked off the field. Manager Bryan Price wanted to have the play reviewed, but when he went onto the field, the umpires were nowhere to be found. Price chased after them but to no avail. As the Cardinals left the field and the stadium emptied, the Reds remained in the dugout. The Reds’ relievers were left in a bit of purgatory, standing aimlessly in left field after exiting the bullpen. Finally, the game was announced as complete over the P.A. system at Busch Stadium. The results are great if you’re a Cardinals fan, but terrible if you’re a Mets or Giants fan.
As Jon Morosi points out, the rules clearly state that the signage above the fence in left field is out of the field of play. The umpires got it wrong.
Price, however, also took too long to speak to the umpires. Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
If this happened between two teams playing a meaningless game, it would’ve been a lot easier to swallow, but Thursday’s Reds-Cardinals game had implications on not only the Cardinals’ future, but the Mets’ and Giants’ as well.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman went 0-for-4 during Thursday’s win against the Phillies, snapping his hitting streak at 30 games. It marked the longest hitting streak of the 2016 season. Freeman’s streak of 46 consecutive games reaching base safely ended as well.
The longest hitting streak in Atlanta Braves history belongs to Dan Uggla, who hit in 33 consecutive games in 2011. Tommy Holmes hit in 37 straight for the Boston Braves in 1945.
During his hitting streak, Freeman hit .384/.485/.670 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 27 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 136 plate appearances. That padded what were already very strong numbers on the season. After Thursday’s game, Freeman is overall batting .306/.404/.572 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI< and 101 runs scored in 677 plate appearances.