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.
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.
Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.
Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.
Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.