Declining fastball velocity makes Javier Vazquez no sure thing to bounce back in Florida

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Javier Vazquez signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the Marlins has seemingly everyone assuming that he’ll fare well going back to the NL and away from New York, and admittedly that was my first thought as well.

After all, Vazquez has a 4.02 ERA in eight career seasons in the NL, compared to 4.65 in four AL seasons, and was an elite starter for the Braves in 2009 with a 2.87 ERA in 219 innings.

However, as David Cameron of Fan Graphs notes Vazquez’s struggles with the Yankees may have had more to do with his declining fastball velocity than his inability to pitch in New York.

His average fastball fell from 91.1 miles per hour in 2009 to 88.7 mph this season as Vazquez posted the lowest ground-ball percentage of his career and served up 34 homers in just 157 innings while batters made contact on more than 80 percent of their swings against him for the first time.

Going from the AL to the NL and from the Yankees’ power-boosting ballpark to the Marlins’ pitcher-friendly home will no doubt help Vazquez, but at age 35 and with his fastball ranking among the slowest in baseball this season it’s also possible that he’s simply no longer as good as he used to be.

Angels claim pitcher Jacob Rhame off waivers from Mets

Jacob Rhame waivers
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The Angels announced on Wednesday that the club claimed reliever Jacob Rhame off waivers from the Mets.

Rhame, 27, was limited to 6 1/3 innings in the majors and 20 2/3 innings in the minors last season due to an elbow issue. He underwent ulnar nerve transposition surgery in mid-August.

Though Rhame has a career 6.23 ERA in the big leagues, he showed promise at Triple-A from 2016-18, averaging better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings in all three years. The Angels are taking a flier on the right-hander to see if he can translate that success to the majors.