Mariners left-hander Anthony Vasquez undergoes emergency brain surgery

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Scary news here. According to Greg Johns of MLB.com, Mariners left-hander Anthony Vasquez required emergency surgery last Friday after doctors discovered a ruptured blood vessel in his brain.

Vasquez began experiencing headaches initially, but didn’t think anything was wrong until he had dizziness and vision problems during a throwing session last Wednesday at the Mariners’ complex in Arizona. Tests showed a lesion in his brain and doctors found a left-threatening ruptured arteriovenous malformation (AVM) during the 5 1/2 hour procedure. The good news is that he came out of the surgery fine and was discharged from the hospital today.

“He’s a miracle,” said his father, Rudy, who is a scout in the Angels’ organization. “We have a strong faith in Jesus and Anthony’s faith has always been strong as well. There’s no other way to say it. When the neurosurgeon came out he said, ‘Your son should be dead, but he’s not.'”

Doctors told Vasquez that he’ll need to avoid heavy lifting for about 6-8 weeks, but he’s expected to be back to normal after that. Baseball obviously takes a back seat for now, but there’s a chance he pitch by the spring if all goes well.

Vasquez, 26, had an 8.90 ERA in seven starts with the Mariners in 2011. He was limited to just 11 starts this season with Triple-A Tacoma due to a shoulder injury.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.