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.
The Rangers found themselves in a 5-1 hole after three innings against the Athletics on Monday, but scratched out some runs in the middle innings. That allowed them to enter the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by only one run, 6-5, facing A’s closer Ryan Madson.
Adrian Beltre, who hit a solo home run in the seventh inning, stepped to the plate with a runner on first base and two outs. He was the Rangers’ last hope to keep the game alive. The veteran third baseman swung at Madson’s first pitch, a 96 MPH fastball, and drilled it to left-center field for a walk-off two-run home run.
Beltre now has nine walk-off home runs in his career. While the 37-year-old isn’t quite the offensive dynamo he was even two years ago, his numbers are still respectable. He’ll head into Tuesday’s action batting .281/.334/.468 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI in 392 plate appearances.
Outfielder Jay Bruce was the catalyst in the Reds’ 7-5 victory over the Giants on Monday night, drilling a pair of two-run home runs. It’s good timing for the Reds, as the trade deadline is six days away. The Reds might prefer to get a prospect or two for Bruce rather than pick up his $13 million club option for 2017 or buy him out for $1 million and let him walk into free agency.
It was only a year ago that it seemed like the Reds would have to settle for next-to-nothing to get rid of Bruce. He posted career-lows across the board in 2014, including a .654 OPS and 18 home runs. He improved last season, returning to 26 home runs, but came with an uninspiring .729 OPS.
This year is another story. Bruce is currently hitting .272/.326/.564 with 23 home runs and a league-best 77 RBI. He’s on pace to set career-bests in a lot of categories if he’s able to stay healthy.
Bruce was honest about his resurgence, though, admitting that he doesn’t know why he’s so much better this year as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving. You’re never settled. You’ve never got it. You’ve never figured it out. It’s like a puzzle that never has all the pieces to it. You might get close and feel pretty good about your progress, but you never are going to have the puzzle put together.
Bruce, who welcomed a child into the world back in April, also discussed the difficulties of hearing his name bandied about in trade rumors once again.
It’s harder this year. I have a family I have to focus on now. Logistically, it’s much more intricate. I know the skit. I know how it goes. But it will be nice when it’s passed because we’ll have a plan of attack on whether my family is staying where they are in Cincinnati or elsewhere.
This is a point of view that is not often covered. This time of the year can be very difficult for players who may be traded, as they await a phone call that could send their lives into upheaval. It may mean being away from their families for three months. It means living out of a hotel room or finding a place to live on very short notice. Even Bruce’s comments about his success this year are illuminating about the mental strain of the game.
As usual, great reporting by Buchanan. His full article is worth your time.