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.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.