It’s just not happening for Javier Vazquez.
In allowing six runs over four innings Sunday in a loss to the Nationals, his ERA jumped to 7.55. Even when Vazquez has struggled in the past, it’s usually come with a respectable or better WHIP. This year, he’s at 1.91. He’s struck out just 20 batters and walked 24 in 39 1/3 innings. He’s given the Marlins all of one quality start in eight tries, and he did the absolute minimum that day, surrendering three runs over six innings in a loss to the Rockies.
Things seem hopeless at this point. He hasn’t regained any of the miles per hour he lost off his fastball last summer, and in trying to throw harder, he’s lost command. Since hitters no longer worry about his fastball, he’s not getting any swings and misses with his slider or curve. All signs point to him being done unless he finds some of that velocity he lost.
Unfortunately, the Marlins are short on replacements. They were feeling pretty good about their pitching depth entering the spring, but their sixth and seventh starters, Alex Sanabia and Sean West, are shut down with elbow injuries.
I’m kind of surprised they didn’t try stretching Burke Badenhop out after sending him down to Triple-A New Orleans, but he’s back in the major league pen now. They have stretched out reliever Jay Buente, and he’s been a nice surprise with a 1.91 ERA and a 32/6 K/BB ratio in five starts for New Orleans. He’d probably be the choice if Vazquez gets bumped this week. Tom Koehler is their other option.
Kevin Millwood is still out there, and while he didn’t show much of a fastball in his stint in the Yankees system, he might be able to finesse his way to being an average fifth starter for the Marlins. Giving him a look wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.